Adopting a senior dog or cat can have its benefits

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

Australian Jewish and Israeli philosopher Martin Buber said, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” Anyone who has owned a pet can attest to these words.

Like nearly all Americans I have been feeling the impact of the isolation caused by the pandemic. I have needed some living thing to share my life with. My cat Gretchen, a 9-year-old American Shorthair, is as close as I can get to having another person sharing my household.

According to the Shelby County Humane Society (SCHS) staff Anna Lutz, the shelter has seen an increase in animal adoptions. Other animal rescues across the country, saw a spike in adoptions and foster applications at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in late February and early March as people prepared for extended stays at home. Lots of people 50-plus are adopting or fostering dogs, cats and other animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits.

According to Julie Castle, chief executive of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, “Numerous studies have shown that contact with pets offers both physical and mental health benefits, including reduced stress and lower anxiety, helping us manage loneliness and depression and — during a crisis — offering moments of calm and peace when the news from the outside world is distressing and overwhelming. They can also keep us active and give us a reason to walk outside and around the block (with proper social distancing, of course) when we feel locked down and isolated” (source: Aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/pet-adoption-coronavirus.html).

The day after my birthday in October, I adopted Gretchen from SCHS. SCHS list any dog 7 years or older and any cat more than 7 years old as a senior. If the adopter is 60 or older, the adoption fees ($35 for cats and $75 for dogs) are waived. In addition to a free adoption, I also received a free post-adoption wellness check-up with a local veterinarian, and like all of the shelter animals, Gretchen is current on immunizations and has been spayed (males are neutered free of charge as well).

For information about adopting a senior dog or cat, visit the SCHS’s website at Shelbyhumane.org/ or calling 205-669-3916.