If you’re planning to add a fur-ever friend to your household, consider opening your home and heart to an older cat or dog

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When Joe Kelly’s co-worker’s home burned down, the family’s three dogs were deposited at the local shelter, but Joe knew one dog would be the perfect companion for his mother-in-law, Hedy – the small, cuddly seven year-old Shih Tzu, Chewie, AKA Senior Pet.

Joe and his wife live next to Hedy in an over-55 community, serve as co-caretakers of the senior pet, and will adopt Chewie upon Hedy’s death or incapacitation. Providing for a pet’s future is an essential consideration for older people who could potentially predecease the animal.


Across America, senior shelter pets are the least likely to find new homes, but there are many benefits of adopting these dogs or cats; here are a few.

Joe and Chewie
Joe Kelly, 62, cuddles with his new
companion Chewie, 7, who became
homeless after a fire.
Easy does it. Older pets tend to be less destructive, more relaxed and better socialized. Most are housebroken.
You can teach an old dog new tricks. Some come equipped with the knowledge of basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” but dogs of any age can be taught new things.
No big surprises. The appearance, size, personalities and grooming requirements of these four-legged pals are already established. Most shelter animals undergo complete physicals and are vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and micro chipped before they go to a new home.
Friendship. Pets reduce feelings of isolation for those who live alone. And, it’s lovely to be greeted by your best buddy when you get home.
Health benefits. These fur friends bring comfort, joy and an opportunity for more exercise and play, thus boosting emotional and physical health for their owners.
It’s a feel-good thing to do. The act of saving a homeless pet from living the rest of his or her years out in a shelter – or being put down – will only deepen the bond between you.

Ready to adopt a pet and don’t know where to start? Visit the Humane Society of the U.S. Shelter Project ( and enter your zip code to see an variety of pets ready for adoption in your area.

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