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Nov 1, 2022

New Program Connects Seniors With Pets

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Thanks to funding from Pets for the Elderly, senior citizens are finding it a little easier to bring a new companion home from DCHS.

At Dane County Humane Society (DCHS), we believe anyone who wants to love and care for a pet should be able to do so. Unfortunately, the cost to bring a furry friend home may seem out of reach for some.

Last summer, DCHS partnered with Pets for the Elderly to help reduce the cost of adopting a companion animal for seniors in our community. DCHS received $4,000 in funding to use from June through December so adopters age 60 years and older could get up to $50 off their adoption fee.

Virgean Ostrand had been searching for a year and a half for a dachshund when she spotted one on DCHS’s website one Sunday evening in June 2021. She and her husband, Dale, left their Door County home the next morning to make the more-than-two-hour drive to DCHS to meet Kona.

Virgean had heard about the nationwide Pets for the Elderly program, but when she and her husband decided to meet Kona, they did not know DCHS was a program partner. They learned during their adoption counseling session that DCHS partners with Pets for the Elderly to offer discounted adoption fees.

“I think it’s a great option,” Virgean says of the ability to adopt and receive a senior discount. “I’m hoping that more people can take advantage of the program. It really helped.”

Seniors living on fixed incomes may believe they can’t afford to get a pet. But Pets for the Elderly and DCHS believe all seniors should be able to enjoy the comfort, companionship, and love of a pet. The discount afforded through Pets for the Elderly makes it possible for seniors to provide shelter animals with loving homes.

Kona had been surrendered weeks earlier because his family had been battling various medical issues and felt they couldn’t provide him with the attention he deserved.

Upon bringing Kona home, the Ostrands noticed very little transition. “He was the best trained family-friendly dog you ever met. Of course, he attached himself to my husband, little bugger,” Virgean says with a laugh. “He’s just the perfect little doggie.

“I hope the senior discount program can continue,” says Virgean, adding that they haven’t been without a dog in 43 years. “Kona has made such a difference in our life. He made our lives bearable when I lost Oscar, my little longhair doxie.”

During the first six months of the program at DCHS, 41 dogs, 57 cats, and 2 guinea pigs were adopted as part of the Pets for the Elderly program. But we’re not done yet! DCHS has been approved to participate in the program in 2022, and the grant amount was increased to $7,000 for the year because of its popularity.

Lisa Bernard is the Public Relations Coordinator for DCHS.

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