Senior citizens in Camden County now have yet another reason to adopt a pet, aside from the numerous health benefits reported by years of scientific studies.
Starting April 22, The Animal Alliance of Camden County will launch its new “Seniors for Seniors” program, which will waive the adoption fee for senior citizens age 60 and older who adopt a senior pet — typically age 7 or older — at one of four Camden County locations.
The program is the latest initiative from the Animal Alliance of Camden County, which in addition to Independent Animal Control, consists of the Animal Adoption Center in Lindenwold, the Camden County Animal Shelter in Blackwood, and the Animal Welfare Association and Voorhees Animal Orphanage, both based in Voorhees.
Don Jennings, executive director of the VAO, said the “Seniors for Seniors” program is funded by the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which, he said, generously offered to cover the costs for senior citizens adopting senior pets.
Jennings said that pairing, senior citizens and senior pets, made sense to the members of the alliance, as both age groups of person and pet complement the needs of one another.
“For most animals, they get to that age, they’re kind of laid back anyway, so it’s a good match for seniors who might have limited mobility or less ability to get out, so this helps them with an animal that fits better,” Jennings said.
In return, Jennings said the program also helps find homes for senior pets, which he said could sometimes be more of a challenge to find homes for.
“Not everyone who comes in looking for a new pet is looking for an old pet,” Jennings said.
Maya Richmond, executive director at the AWA, said she has personal experience with senior pet adoption, as several years ago her own 62-year-old mother lost a beloved dog, but while trying to adopt a new pet, she was informed she was “too old” to properly care for an animal.
Richmond said the new program not only promotes seniors taking on pets, but would improve their lives by giving them a pet to care for every day.
“There has been a tremendous amount of studies and correlation between the quality of life improvements and health advantages of having a pet for mature adults, as well as everyone,” Richmond said.
According to Richmond, the program is just the latest way in which the alliance has allowed members to work collaboratively and collectively.
“You know that the same program is being offered, so you’re going to have an easy time making that match or finding the right pet,” Richmond said. “All shelters have this one program.”
Jennings also extolled the benefits of the alliance, including several other relatively new programs, such as the “Pet Food Pantry” at Animal Adoption Center, Animal Welfare Association and Camden County Animal Shelter on the second Saturday of every month that provides nutrition assistance to pet owners undergoing financial hardship who otherwise might be forced to surrender their pets.
“Basically, there was just a renewed effort to get everybody on board, and we quickly got traction,” Jennings said.