At the beginning of the year, we here at the Creatures Division set out on a very important mission: to help educate all of you awesome ISF supporters on a sometimes-overlooked creature population—those in need of a forever home. We’ve already talked to you about how especially in need black cats and “bully breeds” are for a loving foster or forever home, but there is one other population that is often overlooked: older pets.
What is an Older Pet?
Veterinarians typically start to consider a cat or dog an older animal when they hit the age of seven. According to veterinarian Jeremy Grossbard, “‘Senior’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘geriatric’. It does not mean your animal is dying." He goes on to compare it to being a 50-year-old human; "it’s just about that age when our bodies start to change.” In shelters dogs as young as five years can already have trouble finding a home.
Older Pets in Shelters
Sadly, older pets in shelters are often some of the first that are euthanized. Why are they some of the first to be euthanized? Because they are older and, because of this (according to adoptaseniorpet.com), they are often considered "unadoptable."
Older Pets and Fospice Care
Fospice is exactly what it sounds like, a combined foster care and hospice for an older pet. It’s usually more permanent than your average foster home, as the fospice parents provide the homeless pet with “end-of-life comfort and care,” according to the SFSPCA. According to Foster Dogs, Inc., many of these animals are older, but they do not have to be; the animals involved are usually considered terminally ill, and have been diagnosed with a non-contagious illness that is considered “life-limiting”. Fospice allows them to live the rest of their lives in a loving home.
Being a Fospice Parent
Being a fospice parent is obviously a very rewarding, though heartbreaking, experience. If you become a fospice parent, you have to realize that the pet you a fostering may pass away while in your care, and as you become more attached to him or her, it will become more emotional for you to watch them get closer to passing on. You will also work closely with the foster program to help ensure the animal's comfort level. The may also be on a special diet, need to be taken to regular doctor visits, need medication and fluids administered, and, in general, need close monitoring.
If you are thinking about being a fospice parent, first, THANK YOU!, but please keep in mind that it’s a serious responsibility. Here are some questions to ask yourself, according to the SFSPCA, before you make a final decision:
- Am I emotionally ready to accept an animal that I know has a limited time to live? Is my family?
- Am I able to administer daily medications and other types of treatments to an elderly or ill animal?
- Am I comfortable with the concept of euthanasia for a terminally ill animal?
- Is my household conducive to bringing home a special-needs animal?
- Will my other animals feel displaced?
THANK YOU to everybody who has participated in our #FosterFriday and #SeniorSunday, but we’re not done yet!! If you are fostering an amazing animal or are the parent to an awesome older or senior baby, join us on Twitter on Fridays and Sundays, respectively, and share with us your amazing foster or senior pet with the hashtags #FosterFriday, #SeniorSunday and #ISF!
Another special THANK YOU to the Mobstirs and Cheryl for putting together the awesome senior pets video!
Meet us back here next month for the next installment of our “Halfway to Home” series!