“We had her in the visiting room and she was checking everything out, running around and sniffing things,” said Bob, a Reno resident. “She came over to me and put her head on my lap and that was it.”
On Thursday, Bob and his wife, Debbie, visited the Nevada Humane Society (NHS) looking for a new canine friend. Their 10-year-old dog had just died and with no children or grandchildren, the McLaughlins were looking for a companion to fit their lifestyle. They wanted an animal that was a little older and that would get along with their cats. They didn’t know about NHS’ Seniors for Seniors program when they visited the shelter, but when Debbie saw a sign about it on the front desk, she immediately was excited.
“I saw the sign for [adopters] 55 and up and said, ‘Well, that’s my husband!” Debbie said. “We got her for zip, zero, nada, nothing. It’s great.”
In 2007 when NHS became a no-kill animal shelter, it also started a matchmaking program called Seniors for Seniors.
Seniors for Seniors is a program for people 55 years old and older who are interested in adopting a pet through the society. If the pet is 6 years old or older, adopting the animal is free.
The program is designed to help seniors on a fixed income take pets into their homes, NHS community program director Diane Blankenburg said. By waiving the adoption fee these households are able to afford more of the expenses that come with owning a pet, like food, beds, toys and veterinary visits.
“It seems that older people identify more with older pets,” Blankenburg said. “Their lifestyles fit together. A lot of the time, older cats and dogs get overlooked. This helps them get adopted.”
Though the program is not heavily advertised, Blankenburg said that there are people who come in and say they want to adopt an older pet. The society has specific senior cat and dog colonies where the older animals live together. These colonies are a place for seniors to find companions without paying the adoption fee.
“A lot of people come in and ask if we have a program for seniors but not a lot of people know about it beforehand, which is unfortunate,” NHS adoption manager Vanessa Porter said. “People come in and are really excited when they find out that they can adopt these older animals and waive the fee.”
Shelby is settling in with the McLaughlins very nicely, sitting on their couch and riding in the car. Bob and Debbie agreed that even in two days, they can tell their match through Seniors for Seniors is a perfect fit.
“She showed so much love and affection in just two days,” Bob said. “It’s just unreal. It’s like we’ve had her forever.”
For more information, visit www.nevadahumanesociety.org.