Pets and seniors make a perfect pair

Retired senior citizens sometimes struggle with loneliness. A great daily companion can be found with a pet.

“There is a great benefit to having pets, said Gerald Patesel, vice president of Community Services for Peninsula Agency on Aging.

He cited studies that show seniors who have animal companions are 36 percent less likely to report being lonely. Even more noteworthy is they have 21 percent fewer physician visits.

For example, dog owners are more likely to get out and walk with their dog which means they get some regular exercise, he said.

Andy Carpenter, a volunteer at the Heritage Humane Society, owns three cats ranging in age from 14 to 3 years old. He said in addition to their companionship, pets give unconditional love.

“They can be demanding at times, but in doing so, they are very sweet,” said the retired electrical engineer.

Carpenter also fosters cats and kittens surrendered at the humane society’s shelter. He smiles as he describes his younger cat as “the nanny to the kittens” that he fosters.

Pam Maloof, a retired flight attendant, does not own a dog but gets pleasure from fostering them for the humane societies in Williamsburg and in Tennessee where she and her husband spend half of the year.

“My life is complete when I have a dog to care for,” she said.

Her joy comes from fostering dogs that need extra affection to help them be placed in a permanent home.

She currently has Norman, a large dog.

“At first, he would not come out of his bed, wouldn’t go for walks and cried a lot. But with time and personal attention, he will go for walks and is the sweetest dog,” she said.

Maloof suggested a senior animal is better for senior people.

“Most of all, seniors need to be concerned if they get a puppy, will they outlive it? Puppies have a lot of energy and it is nice to have an older dog that has slowed done some,” she said.

The Heritage Humane Society offers animals older than 10 years old at a discount, according to Darci VanderSilk, marketing manager with the society.

An animal older than 10 years is considered a senior pet. Adoption fees for a senior dog is $150 versus $175 for an adult dog (older than 10 months) or a puppy which is $200. A senior cat is $50 while an adult cat is $75 a kitten is $100.

Stop by and visit

The Heritage Humane Society is located at 430 Waller Mill Road.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, noon-4:30 p.m. Closed Monday.

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