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Programs to Assist the Elderly with Pets

There is great variation among older people .  Some are less mobile than they once were and have fewer contacts with friends and family.  For these individuals especially, a pet can be a cherished companion, and “someone to care for and to be recognized by”.  The groups listed below value all that animals can bring to an elder’s life, and recognize how an elder can help an animal in need of a home.  They make it a little easier for senior citizens to adopt a pet.

Getting a Pet

Pets for the Elderly Foundation                              …  helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter — including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee.

The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has begun a Seniors for Seniors Pet Adoption program.  Anyone age 65 or above can name their fee for adopting a dog or cat who is age 7 or older.  As always, adopters will receive the services of PAWS adoption counselors to find a great match.  If you would like to retire with a wonderful (furry) companion, please call 215-238-9901 ext 30  or email, or  go to the PAWS website      (4/26/2012)

Prancing Paws Animal Rescue –  Philadelphia     Seniors to Seniors program                 Senior citizens are entitled to adopt a cat above the age of five for free! These cats are looking to enjoy their golden years with peace and quiet. They are hoping you can provide this for them! To participate in this program you must be at least 65 years or older. Identification and proof of age is required, as are a veterinarian reference and a home inspection.       

The Sanctuary at Haafsville (in the vicinity of Allentown PA) has a successful “Senior Match” program for older dogs and older folks.  The sanctuary provides food and medical care for the dogs while the seniors have them.

Lucy’s Senior Pet Adoption Program   is part of  ARF-SEPA (Animal Rescue Foundation – SE Penn).  You can pre-register  the size and type of senior pet you are looking for and will be notified when one becomes available.    610-994-4300

Ariel’s Angels Rescue  have offered free or very low cost pet adoptions to seniors, the disabled, veterans and those on low incomes. The animals are vetted, spayed or neutered and vaccinated.  Cats or dogs over 2 years old are free to Senior citizens.  Contact Lisa at 267-625-9745  or at

A local rescue is offering Free Adoption of fully vetted, spayed or neutered cats to Seniors.  Seniors must meet the rescue’s application requirements.      Please contact  for further information.

Hope for the Animals (Morrisville PA) is seeking foster homes for cats and kittens.  They will cover the costs of food, veterinary care, and medical supplies for their foster cats.  They will also provide food for other pets you have in your home.  This program is for ‘foster parents’ of any age who fulfill the requirements for becoming a foster home.

Temporary Respite Care of Pets      Be aware that the Bucks County SPCA (Lahaska, Quakertown) will provide temporary housing assistance for pets of people who are referred through a social service agency.

2015 GenPhilly Pet-tastic Happy Hour benefiting the Seniors for Seniors program of PAWS.


Animal Shelters Reaching out to Seniors  – an article in a Humane Society of the U.S. publication    (scroll down to page 3)

With Americans living longer and healthier lives, senior citizens make up a larger portion of the population. Many have pets but may need occasional assistance in caring for them; many who don’t have pets might benefit from a little furry company. Some shelters are reaching out to their communities’ elders, bringing them pet supplies and assistance, or—through animal visitation programs—affection and attention on four paws.



Planning for the Continued Care of Pets

Pet Food Banks

Senior Pets

Animal Assisted Therapy

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If an older or disabled person needs assistance with pet care tasks like cleaning the litter box, a pet sitter can often be hired to do that work.  There are also specialized tools, like a long handled litter scoop, to make these tasks easier for anyone with a flexibility limitation.

ATTENTION [4/2014] :   Despite great fanfare at the beginning, there have been complaints regarding lack of follow-up and lack of pet food from Food Stamps for Pets.  It might be best to hold off applying and submitting your personal information until more is known about this organizations’ operation.

In February 2013, a nation-wide program called Food Stamps for Pets began.  Based on donations, Food Stamps for Pets is meant to help low income pet owners of all ages to  keep their pets.  Application is currently only online. Mail applications will be accepted after the program has made the move to its new offices.   Once verified, pet owners will receive pet food once a month through retailer, Pet Food Direct. 

February 2011 – ACCT (Animal Care and Control Team) is now distributing free pet food.  111 W. Hunting Park Ave. Phila

The programs listed below assist Seniors in caring for their pets.  Unfortunately, they are not operating in Philadelphia.  But we’re mentioning them so there are models to work toward. 

 Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (N.Y.) :    Pets and Elder Team Support (PETS)            Pets are definitely part of the family, and they require daily attention. When the routine becomes too much for elderly pet owners, JASA’s Pets and Elder Team Support (PETS) steps in.

Ani-Meals on Wheels – is a needs-based program in Reading PA.   The Humane Societyof Berks County, in partnership with the Berks County Area Agency on Aging, prepares monthly pet food and supply ‘care packages’ that are delivered to program participants.            CALL to see if HSOBC is still offering services in Montgomery county.

Hope Animal  Resource Center plans to institute a  program similar to the Berks County Ani-Meals locally, once their shelter in New Jersey is built.

Meals on Wheels of  Northampton County PA (Bethlehem area) is providing Ani-meals on Wheels (and some pet care items) to seniors with pets who receive  meals through them.  Call 610-691-1030

Other places with pet food programs:

Atlanta, GA

Northern Kentucky Senior Services

Cedar Rapids. Iowa

Clark County, WA

Buffalo, NY

“Pet Guardians” , Lancaster county, PA –  provides comfort and peace of mind to elderly persons who are planning to enter a care facility or individuals who are near the end of life by finding homes for their pets when they are unable to care for them.

“Pet Pals of Southern New Jersey”, Bellmawr, NJ –  supports animal companionship for as long as possible by offering  home pet care and exercise, pet food and assistance with vet care to clients faced with serious illness.  Limited to Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Salem counties.

Pets Forever“, Fort Collins CO – is a program of the veterinary school of Colorado State University, designed to assist individuals to maintain ownership of their pets for as long as possible.  It provides in-home animal care, transportation and pet food delivery to eligible elders (60+) or disabled persons in their area.

“Pets for Seniors”, Edwards Illinois – they assist with the costs of pet adoption, provide transportation to the vet for a yearly check-up, will take care of the animals for free if the owner needs to be in the hospital and will take a pet back if the owner is unable to care for him/her.

“Senior Pets for Senior Folks”, Sarasota FL  – every pet adopted comes with the offer of an Angel  – a volunteer who will call, make sure both owner and pet have enough food, find walkers for the dogs and drive the owner to vet appointments.

PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) New York operates a Housecall Program (to provide dog walking, litter maintenance, vet transport, etc), a pet food pantry and a Referral Network to assist low income senior citizens (and persons suffering from a temporary or permanent disability or illness).  A grant from Amie’sPlace Foundation in December 2011 will allow them to transition from an all-volunteer group to a managed non-profit organization.       There had been a similar PAWS program in Pittsburg, but that seems to have closed.

“The Pets for Life NYC Program” (PFLNYC) is an animal surrender prevention program of the Humane Society of US.  It operates in New York City and is dedicated to helping people resolve problems that could otherwise lead them to surrender their pets to the city’s animal shelter system.   It provides a variety of services for qualified individuals, including: reduced cost boarding or temporary foster care for pets of people in crisis; free and low-cost behavioral training for dogs and cats;  pet food and supplies to those in need;  general counseling and education for people with pet-related concerns.

“Blessed Bonds” , Chicago IL –  offers temporary help to those who want to keep their pets but are having difficulty meeting their pets daily needs.  Includes in-home assistance .

“Pet Pals of Texas”, in the San Antonio area,  provides in-home pet care, food, and veterinary support to the companion animals of the disabled and terminally ill to keep them together in their homes.

“Mary Hooper  Elder Pet Care Program” (Scituate, MA) Low income elders may apply to receive free pet food offered through a partnership of the Social Service League of Cohasset and the Scituate Animal Shelter.   As of September, 2011, please note that  free veterinary checkups, spay/neuter and grooming services have been temporarily suspended due to funding.

“Seniors for Pets,Inc.” (Englewood, FL) funds basic vet care for the pets of needy seniors, who are suggested by vets or senior organizations.

“Heart’s Companion Cat for Seniors” (Hamburg, N.Y.) matches older cats with senior citizens.  Heart had previously paid for the cats’ medical care and  would provide transport to the vet.  They were able to take back a pet if the elderly owner became unable to care for him/her, but economic downturns have forced them to modify these policies.

Phinney’s Friends” (Boston MA) helping elders and their pets get by with a regular program (for chronically ill or disabled pet owners, or pets with long term needs), an emergency program, a food program and an AIDS assistance program.

Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition in Arizona is adding pet support services to the roster of ways that these volunteers help nearby elderly and disabled adults.  They estimate that 40% of the people they serve have a pet.     Pet walking and pet sitting are among the services to be offered.

A unique nursing facility, Vaugh’s Haven (Rushville IL) , allows residents’ pets to be with them everyday

C.A.R.E. 4 Paws in Santa Barbara CA,   has a companion animal assistance program to help low income and elderly pet owners.  Pet food and spay/neuter assitance is offered, as well as help with dog walking,  litter pan cleaning, pet grooming  and bird cage cleaning.

The Pet Project, in the Twin Cities area, stocks pet food at food banks, shares information on low cost vet care and works with local vets to supplement pet care.

Pet Adoption Groups who will take back the pet if the owner becomes unable to care for the pet:

PAWS  Seniors for Seniors – Lynnwood WA

Pet Adoption and Lifecare Society (PALS)    Bromall PA

Hospice Volunteers Help with Pets as Part of End of Life Care

The ‘Pet Peace of Mind’  program from the Banfield Charitable Trust allows terminally ill individuals to keep their animal companions by providing help with pet care.   According to the Banfield website, there are no Pet Peace of Mind programs operating in Philadelphia at this time.  There is one listed in Ewing N.J.

Hospets are services for referred seniors, disabled and hospice patients.  They serve Union County in Ohio.

Hospaws   is a nonprofit organization located in Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland county. Their mission is to provide local residents who are under medical care with the assistance they need in order to care for their pets.

Advice:       How to Handle Aging Parents’ Pets:

You can’t buy unconditional love at a pharmacy, so don’t expect Mom or Dad to give up Fifi or Fido.

2/2015  Help Desk may have been discontinued.    We have a  service (and new website) from The Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team – ACCT – the place that must take in all the stray and surrendered animals in Philadelphia !   It is the ACCT Philly Help Desk.  Call or email them to get help in solving many pet problems   (267-385-3800 or

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One Comment leave one →
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