Older pets are some of the most heartbreaking and vulnerable in the City’s shelters. Most have experienced years in a loving home and have learned comfort and affection from people and other animals. They’ve learned manners and how to behave appropriately in a household; slept in warm soft spots and had favorite foods, treats and the chance to go outside. By no fault of their own, they end up in a cold and strange shelter with a barrage of unfamiliar sounds and smells as they lay in a kennel alone. To anyone who has ever experienced the love and companionship of an older pet, the thought alone is unbearable. But situations change and resources can be scarce for regular care and for the medical issues that can arise in an aging dog or cat. With their advanced age and special needs, senior pets are at a very high risk of euthanasia when the shelters are full and space is needed.
For whatever reason they get there, older pets are steadily brought into local shelters. Now there is a Philadelphia group dedicated specifically to helping them get out and safely back into homes. The City of Elderly Love was announced this week as the newest rescue effort to come out of the extensive local work of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia (CNKP). What started as a Facebook marketing effort is now a full-fledged rescue thanks to the passion and dedication of CNKP Board Member Erin Lewin and the support of many like-minded senior loving fans. Erin explains her motivation: "Starting a senior pet rescue was a little dream of mine ever since I adopted my first senior dog, Jema, from Philly's Animal Control shelter in 2010. It's hard to describe the bond Jema and I shared, but now when I see a senior pet in our shelter-system, I can't stand the thought of someone missing their chance of adopting their own ‘Jema.’”
Lewin and her fellow CNKP Board Members have recognized the need for resources to be provided to the City’s pet owners to try and keep pets in homes and out of the shelter system. They have made huge strides toward addressing these needs with monthly pet pantries around the city, a community help desk to assist pet owners in finding low-cost vet resources, pet friendly housing, behavioral assistance and much more. (see their website for details and contact information). With senior pets, health concerns change and vet care doesn’t get any easier to obtain. (Check out City of Elderly Love's resources page for senior-specific concerns) The best of prevention efforts won’t stop all pets, senior or otherwise, from coming to the shelters. City of Elderly Love was started to draw attention specifically to the older pets in local shelters and the need to try and help them as soon as possible, considering their more precious position.
Now that City of Elderly Love is an official rescue, they need the support of Philadelphia residents. The best solution, adopting an older pet, is encouraged at all times and advice and resources are available on the site for general and for senior's particular needs. Foster homes are now greatly needed to hold an a senior (appropriate for their household) until adoption. Foster homes for City of Elderly Love will have the full support of the rescue, with the veterinary care provided and behavioral and training support will available. The rescue will also actively be involved with marketing fosters for adoption and providing other needs, like food, toys, crates, as needed. Apply here to foster a senior pet.
Senior pets are especially rewarding to rescue, with an inexplicable gratitude and seamless and constant love that is nothing short of life-changing. They also tend to need little more than food, water, affection and occasional walks outside. Older animals often come fully trained, accustomed to living with other pets and have all of their inside and outside manners in full effect. They are easy to care for and even easier to fall in love with. Supporters who can’t bring a senior pet into their home right now can still be of invaluable assistance by donating whatever possible to City of Elderly Love to offset veterinary and food costs, allowing more animals to be pulled and placed.
Anyone not able to offer financial support right now can also be a huge help by spreading the word about this fantastic new rescue, how to help and about the pure joy of seniors and pet adoption in general. Sharing positive experiences and educating people how to adopt and care for their pets are some of the best ways to help homeless animal in the City and beyond. Every animal saved is a life and a family changed for the better.
See these links for more information and details on programs mentioned herein:
- The City of Elderly Love: resources, foster program details and application, donate.
- Check out their Facebook page for new pets available and in need locally
- Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia: Community Pet Help Desk
- CNKP launches life-saving program and no-kill rescue, City of Elderly Love
- Top 10 reasons to adopt an older dog (ASPCA)
- 10 reasons senior cats rule (Petfinder)