Many elder pet owners face challenges when it comes to re-homing their pet. An owner’s death, illness or other issues can cause an animal to be displaced or abandoned, but the Furry Godparents Pet Program hopes to keep seniors’ pets safe, even after the worst has happened.
The program, run under the nonprofit Caregiver PAWS Connection, sprung up over the pandemic and is launching its first six-month pilot trial for residents at assisted living center Westminster Suncoast, from June 1 to December 31.
“For some people, opening a can of wet food can be hard enough,” said Candy Porter, a marketing coordinator with Furry Godparents. “Once seniors can no longer take care of the animal, this is a permanent commitment to surrender the animal.”
In the event of death, illness or inability to care for the animal, the seniors’ pet will be transported to the Friends of Strays “waiting room” where the shelter then posts the animal’s photo and story on social media.
It’s a fast track to finding a new forever home, with no cages and less trauma for the animal.
Securing a spot costs $300, and $500 for a pet suffering an illness.
“If the pet owner cannot afford the fee, we will make up the difference,” Porter said.
The concept started with an overwhelming response following a Friends of Strays Facebook post featuring a brown-and-white cat, Laurel.
Laurel’s owner, a resident at Westminster Suncoast, was forced to surrender her after being diagnosed with dementia.
After just one post by Friends of Strays, Laurel was quickly re-homed with a loving family.
“Personally, I have a cat and I know my kids can’t take her, so this would be a peace of mind that [my cat] Cleopatra is taken care of,” Porter said.
Currently, the program is only open to residents at Westminster Suncoast; the next six months will determine if and how Furry Godparents will continue.
“We need to find out if there is a need,” Porter said, “and work the kinks out if so.”