Cats & Dogs News / Pets

Seniors' Pets Get TLC During Times of Crisis

An ancillary organization for the Clark County Elder Justice Center has created a program to provide emergency boarding and foster homes for pets of seniors during times of crisis.

Friends of the Elder Justice Center developed the Pets of Older People program to help keep elderly people and their pets together for as long as possible and enhance the well-being of elderly people who may refuse medical care or long-term care because they don't want to be separated from their pet.

"You take away a pet, and you are setting them up for depression and failure to thrive," said Dianna Kretzschmar, Friends of the Elder Justice Center member and health services liaison at Fort Vancouver Convalescent Center.

Friends of the Elder Justice Center is an offshoot of the Elder Justice Center. The center was founded in May 2011 in the Clark County Prosecutor's Office to prosecute cases of elder abuse investigated by Adult Protective Services.

The Friends of the Elder Justice Center was formed to provide resources and support for vulnerable adults not available through the judicial system or Adult Protective Services. One of the needs the group identified was emergency boarding and foster homes for the pets of elderly people who need to be hospitalized, rehabilitated or are experiencing some other life event when they cannot care for their pet.

"We were looking for how to provide support for the abused and vulnerable," Kretzschmar said. "There are gaps in community services. We wanted to provide some of those services."

Two success stories

The Clark County Pets of Older People program, which also goes by the acronym POOP, has already arranged emergency boarding and foster care for two pets through its network of animal shelters.

In one case, Samantha Petshow, a supervisor at Adult Protective Services, called because an elderly couple refused medical care and a move to a safer living situation because they didn't want to give up their chocolate Labrador retriever mix, "Baby," who had lived with them for seven years, Kretzschmar said. Adult Protective Services didn't have staff to coordinate a pet placement and lacked knowledge of foster programs that might take pets of vulnerable adults, Kretzschmar said. Within an hour of the call, the program had arranged temporary lodging for Baby through the Humane Society for Southwest Washington's foster pet program, she said.

Three weeks later, Baby was reunited with her family, she said.


(c) The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.


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