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6260 State Rd., Parma, OH 44134 | Parma Animal Shelter, 501(c)(3) organization

Owning a pet is a commitment, and most senior citizens are well aware of this fact. At some point in their life, they probably had a dog or a cat or some other pet that they loved and cared for over a decade or more.

That type of commitment might be more than some adults are willing to sign up for in their older years. First of all, pets can be expensive, and a senior’s fixed income may not allow for the regular expenses of owning a pet. Also, seniors who enjoy traveling may not want the hassle or expense of finding someone to care for their pets while they travel. Still, other elderly adults may worry about their pet outliving them, and be concerned their pet will end up unwanted in a shelter.

Many senior citizens who love dogs and cats may find that rather than owning a pet, fostering a pet is an ideal situation for them.

What Does it Mean to Foster a Pet?

Those who foster a pet bring it home from a local shelter or rescue group for a short time. Animals, especially dogs, thrive more in a home with a loving caretaker than in a shelter. During the time they are fostered, a pet is cared for by its foster parent just as if the foster parent owned the dog.

The goal of foster care is to ready the pet for its forever home, the home of the person who will eventually adopt it for good. Fostering a pet also means that room in a shelter or rescue has been freed up for another pet to use, making it possible for more dogs and cats to eventually find a home.

When a senior citizen fosters a pet, they get the companionship of having a pet around and the satisfaction of helping one out without having to be concerned about a long term commitment.

How Much Does it Cost for a Senior Citizen to Foster a Pet?

Unlike adopting a pet, there are no fees involved in bringing home a pet to foster. In fact many shelters and rescues help a foster pet parent out with expenses such as food, leashes, crates and even vet bills.

The amount each shelter provides to a foster pet parent varies, so a senior citizen in a retirement community or PA or elsewhere who is considering fostering a pet should find out before they volunteer to foster exactly what money is available for the pet’s expenses.

Beyond taking care of the pet’s expenses, there are very few shelters or rescues who pay anyone to foster a pet so fostering a cat or dog isn’t a moneymaker for an older adult. However, fostering may be a way for a senior who can’t afford to own a pet to take pets into their homes for companionship – both for the human and the dog or cat.

How Long Should a Senior Citizen Expect to Foster a Dog or Cat?

The average stay of a dog or cat with a foster parent is about two months, but that duration can be shorter or longer depending on the demand for the breed and age of the animal. Those who choose to foster a kitten may find that their foster time is only a week or so. A shelter should be able to give a foster parent some sort of indication of how long they think the foster situation will last.

And, unlike adopting a pet where the responsibility becomes the owners if there’s a problem with compatibility, a foster parent can always return the dog or cat to the shelter or rescue they are working with. However, most foster parents grow rather attached to their foster pets and enjoy keeping them until they find a forever home.

Is it Smart for a Senior Citizen to Foster a Senior Pet?

Older adults tend to have a heart for older dogs and cats that have difficulty finding homes. A senior pet that’s already trained and also doesn’t have significant health problems is often the perfect choice for a senior citizen to foster.

Older animals – particularly dogs – often have less energy than their younger counterparts so while they can provide the companionship and affection that all pets can, they don’t need as much exercise. This is an advantage for a senior citizen who also does not have the energy to go runs or very long walks.

Also, knowing that they’re bringing comfort to an older animal’s senior years may be a comfort to an older pet foster parent. They understand that sometimes those who are older get overlooked.

Can Senior Citizens become Foster Fails?

In the pet fostering world, a foster fail is a winner. The term means to fail to give a foster pet up, instead choosing to adopt the pet.

Some foster pet parents who think they don’t want an animal long term end up forming a bond with a particular dog or cat and choose to make them a permanent member of the family. This can happen to an older adult as well as a younger pet foster parent.

If a senior citizen has the room in their home and the physical ability to care for a pet, shelters and rescues are usually more than happy to find just the right dog or cat for them to foster.

About the Author
Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

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