In the years I have been volunteering at an animal shelter, I’ve noticed that the majority of people who come to adopt pets are young couples and families. It seems that many people over 50 with grown up children think they are “beyond the age of doing it again”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Older adopters usually have more time, patience and experience to be successful owners.
There are many advantages of pet ownership. It has been proven to increase lifespan and happiness and has a positive effect on physical and emotional health.
Dogs are especially loving, loyal and need to be walked which means plenty of exercise with a devoted (and free!) personal trainer.
Before adopting an animal companion, it is important to consider the following:
What is your lifestyle?
Cats are certainly easier to have around as they don’t need to go outside to walk, can be left for the day (with adequate provisions) and don’t require the owner to have much physical strength.
Felines tend to be solitary and while many like to be petted and held, they do it on their own terms. Dogs are social, which promotes neighborhood interaction and physical exercise.
At our animal shelter in Raanana, volunteers carefully match the right dog to the right adopter. Puppies, while cute, require a lot of work and may not always be suitable, whereas we’ve had tremendous success with older dogs that are less energetic and are house-trained. Both cats and dogs need grooming.
Adoption fee: most shelters and nonprofits charge between NIS 600-800 which includes spaying/neutering plus food, supplies, annual vaccines and vet visits. This can vary greatly according to the breed. It is not necessary to spend large sums on luxury pet goods.
In the past older adopters were discouraged due to fears of “what if”? This is outdated as people are living longer and are leading more active lives. It is wise however to make sure that you have back-up – family member, hired help or neighbor in case of illness or travel.
There are other options for those who want to be around animals but are not able or willing to do long term adoption. Pet co-sharing is one. My father, who is in his late 80’s, adopted a rescue dog with his next door neighbor. They share the costs and responsibilities.
Another option is fostering. The shelters are full to the brim! A goal is to get as many dogs into foster homes until suitable adoptions are arranged. Lastly, volunteering is an option.
Most animal shelters and rescue organizations welcome older men and women to help out in any way they can – walking, organizing adoptions, bringing in donated supplies.
■For information about pet adoption or fostering, please contact Susan at 09 771 8274 or firstname.lastname@example.org