Pets for Seniors is a program started by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Humane Society that allows seniors to bring pets into their lives. The idea came from taking notice that many seniors have pets but are limited in what kind of pet they can have due to life circumstances. Despite these limitations, Pets for Seniors provides different kinds of animals depending on individual needs. For example, having rabbits as house pets requires more time and space than traditional cats or dogs would so they are only offered to those who have both available. Pets for Seniors has been active since 2008 and has found homes for over 3,000 animals as of 2012; however, this number may be higher as some animals may be adopted out through standard adoption programs instead of going through Pets for Seniors.
Some animals that have been available in the Pets for Seniors program include rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets, red-eared slider turtles, sugar gliders and a range of cats and dogs with a variety of different personalities. For each animal there is an adoption fee which covers vaccinations, deworming (for dogs), spaying/neutering (both male and female) and microchipping; however, not necessarily all of these services are always available depending on availability at the time. The cost to adopt an animal can vary but typically ranges anywhere from $10-$180 while still including some or all of the standard procedures done at Wisconsin Humane. Overall it reduces the financial barrier to getting a pet if someone is already taking care of other animals and also saves on costs that may come later such as adoption fees, veterinary bills, and food.
Rabbits are one very common type of animal found through Pets for Seniors. They require less attention than dogs and cats would and they fit well in the living space that many seniors live in. Rabbits can be litter trained making them easier to maintain as well as helping keep the house clean. If an older person has never had a rabbit before it may take some time to adjust to caring for this new animal; however, once the rabbit is comfortable it will seek out its owner for affection rather than trying to escape like a cat or dog might do. Like any other animal, rabbits need to be spayed or neutered which has an added benefit of reducing aggression among other bunnies. Although this may take away from some of the cuteness aspect, it makes them healthier and more suitable for living indoors with less probability of ending up in a shelter later on. Rabbits can be able to live as long as 12 years if properly cared for making them ideal pets for seniors who are also interested in having companionship throughout their lives.
Guinea pigs are another type of pet that is very common through Pets for Seniors because they are easy to care for but still have the benefits of being social creatures. They typically don’t require much space so they can fit easily into almost any household environment. These little creatures also don’t typically require much in terms of veterinary care; however, they do need to be spayed or neutered which cannot be done until they are four months old. Overall guinea pigs are very adaptable creatures that respond well to affection and will groom their owner in return. Like rabbits, guinea pigs live for an average of 6-8 years so it is very possible for them to provide years of companionship.
Parakeets are another type of animal that can be found through Pets for Seniors because they generally fit the same criterion as most other small household pets. Because it is a bird, parakeets must have enough room in its surroundings with windows and perches where it can see outside often otherwise there is a risk that it will start plucking out its own feathers. There are also special foods and diets that must be taken care of so people should do their research before getting one to see what they need to know about caring for this type of animal and how often it needs to be fed and watered. Parakeets don’t live too long either with an average lifespan of 7-10 years which is still relatively long for such a small type of pet.
Red-Eared Sliders, otherwise known as turtles, can also be adopted through Pets for Seniors because they are relatively easy animals to take care of as well as having similar requirements like rabbits and guinea pigs where they need spaying/neutering and microchipping. The only difference with turtles is their diet. If they are not given the right types of food they will eventually starve to death so it is important that people do their research beforehand; otherwise, they can end up spending more money on caring for an animal than what they expect. Turtles also vary greatly in size and environmental needs so it is important to know these things before adopting one out. Turtles can live 20-30 years which makes them useful pets for seniors who want companionship through their golden years as well as keeping a small piece of nature inside a house without needing too much attention.
Fish are yet another type of animal that many older adults often adopt because they require relatively little maintenance compared to something like a dog or cat would need. However, the types of fish that people adopt do vary according to their environment and diet. For example, a goldfish will not survive if it is kept in a small bowl with little water or food because they need a lot of movement to be healthy. There are also saltwater fish who thrive when they have access to sunlight as well as other types of factors that can’t be replicated outside. Pets for Seniors usually has tanks that come with full equipment as well as starter food so customers can simply place an order online and wait for it to arrive at their doorstep.
In the end, whether someone prefers dogs over cats or vice versa, there is always going to be a type of pet out there suitable for any senior citizen who needs furry companionship in their lives. Not only are these little creatures not demanding but they have different personalities that can be very unique depending on the type of animal that one chooses to adopt.