Anyone with pets knows how important they are to their owners. They provide unconditional love, a host of health benefits, and have a way of quickly becoming one of the most important relationships in a person’s life.
And while no senior ever wants to deal with being hospitalized, for the seniors that have pets, the inconvenience is far compounded by worrying about your animal getting the care they need while you’re institutionalized.
If you have family that can take on the care duties until you’re back home, then you’re probably set and don’t need this blog post. But if you don’t know what will happen to your pet if you find yourself facing a lengthy hospital stay, these options may help.
PACT offers a hospital foster program that exists precisely to help people who have pets and are facing hospitalization. The main goal of the program is to keep beloved animals from ending up at a shelter by matching the pets of people who are hospitalized with foster families that can ensure they’re well taken care of until the owner can resume care.
- Local Shelters
Local shelters and rescue organizations routinely have foster programs. While these programs usually have a primary focus on placing dogs looking for a home with foster families, that means they do have a roster of foster parents that are both trained to take care of pets and used to giving them up after a short period of time.
Most shelters and rescue organizations are committed to keeping as many animals as possible in loving homes and saving them from the possibility of being needlessly surrendered to the shelter (especially since most shelters have more pets than they can handle as it is). If you reach out them, there’s a good chance they’ll do what they can to help you find the best solution possible for your pet.
If you’re not already familiar with your local shelters, simply do a search online for “animal shelters near me” (or near your city or zip code). Look for contact information on the website and make a call to see if they can help.
BorrowMyDog is a website devoted to helping bring together people who love dogs with people who have dogs. There are a lot of different forms that can take – people can use it just to find someone to walk or hang out with their dog during the day when they’re out, for example. But by tapping into the community of people in your area that love dogs, you may be able to find someone who can help take on the care of your dog while you’re hospitalized.
It wouldn’t hurt to try the site before you need it. Doing so could end up meaning you have people who already know and love your pet waiting in the wings when the time comes that you really need them.
While the website focuses on dogs, a lot of dog lovers are overall animal lovers, so you may be able to find people to love your cats or fish as well.
The organization that’s already well loved for bringing meals to seniors now earns extra points for having a program dedicated to helping seniors keep their pets. Meals on Wheels offers grants to help cover a number of pet-related needs, including the cost of boarding expenses. If cost is part of the issue you have with keeping your dog while hospitalized, check with your local Meals on Wheels chapter to see if they can help.
- Pet Sitting Sites
Nobody wants their pet to be stuck in a kennel for a long period of time while in the hospital. It may be ok for short stays, but it’s less than ideal for longer ones. Pet sitting sites like Rover and DogVacay allow you to find someone who’s willing to watch your pet in their own home until you get out of the hospital.
While the sitters you find on these sites do charge money for their services, if the price seems too high for you to handle, you can explain the circumstances and see if they’re willing to offer a discount. The sitters on these sites are generally normal people who love pets, so there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to find someone sympathetic who will work with you on the price.
- Turn to your neighbors.
A few websites have arisen devoted to bringing neighbors together to help each other out. NextDoor connects you directly with the people living in your neighborhood. You can post an update about your situation to see if there are any pet lovers nearby who are willing to help you out for a while.
The Rooster is a website devoted to encouraging a sharing culture. People post services they’re willing to offer or things they want to give away. In return, when you have a need, you can post a request for help and hope that it reaches someone willing to help out in the way you need. If you do make use of Rooster to find someone to watch your pet for you, remember to return to the site with something you can offer to the community in return. It’s not required, but it’s within keeping of the larger goal of the website (and will probably make you feel good).
Some cities also have local organizations devoted to helping find care for pets when seniors are hospitalized, so do some Google searches to see what’s available in your area.
No senior should feel forced to give up their pet because of an illness. There are many pet lovers in the world willing to offer a helping hand and the internet and a number of nonprofit organizations help make it easier to match those people with the seniors and pets that need them.