Beth Sullivan, 64, lived alone with an elderly dog who normally does not get along with other animals. Sullivan’s dog was introduced to several other canines, but failed to make a connection with any of them.
This all changed when a terrier-mix named Red walked into a room at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter. Sullivan said Red and her dog instantly became co-dependent, walking side by side.
Sullivan, along with several other San Marcos area seniors, were able to welcome new animals into their homes through the Pets for Seniors
The San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter partnered with Purina to host the Pets for Seniors adoption program, which helped match pets at the shelter with senior citizens of San Marcos.
Purina covered the full adoption fees of the program when it began Jan. 23. However, depleted funds forced the program to end earlier this month, said Kara Montiel, supervisor of the animal shelter. Montiel said the shelter submitted all adoptions made during the program to Purina, who then reimbursed the shelter for the adoption fee.
Montiel said 13 seniors took advantage of the program. Anyone who was at least 60 years old could participate.
“Usually senior citizens are looking to adopt an older dog, which is a type of pet a lot of other people don’t want to adopt,” Montiel said.
Sharron Aurora, shelter technician, said she often helps match pets to their future owners. She said most seniors have been interested in adopting older dogs, during the past two years the shelter has sponsored the program, because they are mellower than most other types of pets.
“A lot of times if the senior is not married, they will be looking to adopt a small dog or cat,” Aurora said. “We hardly ever adopt out kittens or puppies to elderly people because they typically don’t have the energy to keep up with the energy of younger animals. They also often don’t want to deal with the puppy attitude.”
Aurora said she finds most seniors came to the shelter with an idea of what kind of pet they wanted because they’ve owned animals before.
“I look at what our animals have to offer and try to figure out what I think they would be able to handle,” Aurora said. “I pick out a few pets and bring them out to meet their potential new owners.”
Sullivan became interested in the program after reading about it in a newspaper article.
“I have nothing but free time, and I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are retired really enjoy having the company of a dog,” Sullivan said. “I began to think that I could probably handle another.”
Sullivan said she and her 11-year-old dog “adore” Red, and he has been a good addition to her home.
“(Red) is a funny little dog, and the companionship he’s brought to my older dog has been great,” Sullivan said. “This program was great to support, and this couldn’t have worked out better for us.”
Bernie Purdy, 64, said he and his wife Betty, 65, chose to participate in the program. Betty had already been interested in adopting a cat previous to hearing about Pets for Seniors.
Bernie Purdy and his wife wanted to own an older cat so they would not have to worry about raising a kitten. He said they observed the cats at the animal shelter before narrowing down their options.
“There was a gray cat that I liked and another that Betty liked,” Purdy said. “We watched them for a while, and the gray one looked pretty skittish. The other cat looked to enjoy just being there, so we went with her.”
Purdy and his wife took home Savannah, a brown and black cat around two years old. Purdy said besides a few incidents with her scratching their carpet, they have enjoyed having her.
“She’s a good cat, and we’re very pleased with how things have turned out,” Purdy said.