I recently adopted an adorable furry friend from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. While there I discovered they now have several programs for seniors interested in fostering or adopting cats and dogs. Studies have shown that pets can be very therapeutic and the shelter’s philosophy is, “we want anyone who truly wants a pet to have one.”

Doris and Cloe

Doris and Cloe

To learn more, I spoke with Shelter Director Pat Brayer. In June, the shelter launched the “Furry Friends” program with Desert Samaritans. Designed for their senior members who would like to have a pet, but are unable to either afford or fully take care of one, the program provides both costs and care. Desert Samaritans received a $20,000 grant to support the program which covers food, supplies and vet visits. They even have volunteers to walk dogs and to care for cats.

The initial idea was to have seniors foster a pet, but most indicated they would rather adopt than foster. Desert Samaritans assesses the needs of each senior and works with the shelter to find the appropriate match.

catSeniors come into the Shelter to fill out the paperwork and to pick their new friends. They can sit in the lobby or the “meet and greet” areas where dogs are brought out to them, and cat lovers are able to sit in open rooms and play with the cats. Pat says that “dog adopters pick their dogs, but cat adopters are chosen by their new friends.” In the first two weeks of the program, they have placed four pets, which they consider quite a success.

Lend A Paw is another collaboration with the LGBT Center in Palm Springs. It started as a senior program, but has grown beyond age specification. This is more of a foster program, which is great for the shelter as they are currently in need of about 50 more foster families. With Lend A Paw, the individual or family will foster a pet from one week to 1 to 2 months depending on the age of the puppy or kitten. Pets are brought in regularly for vet treatments, such as deworming and shots, which are provided by the shelter. Three pets placed in LGBT Center foster care have found homes already. “We lovingly call this a ‘failed foster’ as their foster parent or a parents’ friend just couldn’t give them up.”

Lend-A-Paw-Foster-Marilyn-Arcoli-ArcaroliI also discovered with my own adoption that the standard cost for seniors is half price. This was a wonderful surprise, and what a joy to have my little friend around.

“We are all in favor of providing furry ones for those who want them in their older years,” concludes Pat. ”Often just having them around gives you that little extra reason for getting up in the morning.”

For more information on Desert Samaritan’s Furry Friends program call (760) 837.9066. For the Lend A Paw, call The Center at (760) 416.7790. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter can be reached at (760) 416.5718.

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