New tricks for old dogs and cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1993:

PORT WASHINGTON, New York––Already adopting out 43,000 animals a year, the North Shore Animal
League isn’t satisfied. While NSAL helps 21 other shelters around the U.S. place most of their puppies and kittens, older
animals are in low demand. The animal over five years of age stands virtually no chance of adoption anywhere, even if
housebroken, docile, affectionate, and likely to live at least another five years in excellent health.
The answer, Seniors for Seniors program director Myron Gould thinks, may be matching older pets with senior
citizens, who often want an animal companion but are reluctant to take in a young animal because of the extra work
involved and because of anxiety that they may die, leaving
the animal homeless.

“We’re starting out just trying to reach the senior citizens
in our own area,” Gould says. “We know these seniors may
be hard to reach. They’re socially isolated––that’s why they
probably would benefit from having a pet. We’re going to
make it possible. And we’re going to assure them that the
animals they adopt, who will be five years and older, will
be healthy and will be good companions for a reasonable
amount of time. For the life of any animal adopted out
through Seniors for Seniors, NSAL will pay for all medical
care and grooming (via the NSAL facilities), will provide
foster care for the animal if the senior is hospitalized, will
provide emergency food if necessary, and we’ll start them
out with all the essential equipment, such as a litter box, a
bag of litter, a scoop, a leash, and even a toy. All they pay
for is food.”
In addition, NSAL “will replace any dead animals
and provide no-cost bereavement counseling, and if the
senior dies before the animal does, we’ll take the animal
back and guarantee the animal will be placed in an equiva-
lent home, if healthy.”
Three NSAL staffers are being trained to serve as
adoption counselors to elderly clients. “Each senior will
work with the same adoption counselor throughout the life
of the animal,” Gould explains. “We’ll be providing very
personalized attention. Seniors for Seniors will be handled
through a special area of our shelter,” with adoption inter-
views and follow-up care provided by appointment. “The
seniors won’t be required to go through the line with every-
one else.”
The start-up media blitz included a full-page ad
donated by the New York Daily News on May 1, ads donat-
ed by the Anton Publications chain of community weeklies,
and window signs posted by local Pathmark supermarkets
and pharmacies.
“We know seniors read newspapers intensively,
and go to pharmacies often,” Gould explains. “We’re also
writing to all the local priests, rabbis, and other clergy,
asking if they know seniors who might benefit from acquir-
ing a companion animal. We’re doing a mailing to all local
industries that employ at least 20 people, asking them to
post information on their bulletin boards. We may even do
a 50,000-piece direct mailing to seniors, if this is what it
takes to get this thing rolling.”
Despite the scale of promotion, the initial phase of
Seniors for Seniors has a modest target: 20 adoptions the
first month. But that’s just a shakedown.
“Once we have a model program running out of
Port Washington,” Gould promises, “and have developed
the educational materials and training books we need, we’re
going to move this program out into other areas with our
own people to make it go. We may even get it going in
France and the United Kingdom, where we’ve discovered
some interest.”
Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.