Pets for Seniors Program
Pets for Seniors Program at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
The Health Benefits of
Pet Ownership for Older Adults
A Pet Can:
- Motivate people to exercise and go outdoors
- Help increase longevity in heart attack patients
- Alleviate depression, loneliness and anxiety
- Help people be more comfortable in social situations
- Offer companionship and unconditional love
- Help someone overcome the loss of a loved one
- Can increase appetite and improve mood of Alzheimer’s patients
- Can lower blood pressure
Whether you are a healthy, active individual who would like to volunteer to walk dogs, or an older person who would like a quiet, gentle pet to cuddle and care for, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter has a pet or opportunity to suit your unique situation.
Every Wednesday from April through August 2013, seniors ages 55 and over who adopt will receive a free spay or neuter on every pet. Seniors who adopt a pet age seven or older will receive a free adoption and a free spay or neuter.
Volunteer and Foster Opportunities for Older Adults
Volunteering and fostering are great ways to receive the emotional and physical benefits of interacting with animals without having to commit to ownership.
We are recruiting older adults to participate in volunteer and foster programs at the Shelter. We hold regular open house tours and information sessions for older adults who are interested in volunteering. If you attend one of these sessions, you will learn about the Shelter, its programs and the many available volunteer and foster opportunities.
You don’t need to have email to be a volunteer or foster at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter! While e-mail is the most common form of communication between staff and volunteers, the Shelter staff will work with older adult volunteers and foster parents via telephone when requested.
Questions about volunteering? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Seniors who need assistance purchasing food or supplies for their pet can receive assistance through one of the food pantry programs that the Fairfax County Animal Shelter supports. Please call the Shelter at 703-830-1100 to learn more about how to get food assistance.
Shelter Tours and Outreach:
We offer Shelter tours to groups of all ages. Contact the Community Outreach Program Manager to schedule a tour. Tour groups will have opportunities for hands-on interaction with some of our adoptable pets. In addition, we are developing a core of volunteers who will bring our adoptable pets to community centers, libraries and villages.
Post Adoption Follow Up Services
The staff at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter is committed to helping new pet owners at every step. Senior adopters will receive follow-up phone calls and e-mails after adoption and will also have access to our Pet Resources email and telephone helpline, where they can contact Shelter staff any time to ask questions about resources, behavior or pet-friendly senior housing.
Peace of Mind Network for Senior Adopters
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is committed to ensuring that our adopted pets are cared for their entire lives. If one of our adopters is no longer able to care for their pet or if the adopter passes, the staff and volunteers at the Shelter will work one-on-one with the adopter and their family to evaluate the animal and guide the adopter and their family towards the most appropriate resources.
Pet Bereavement Support Group
Losing a pet can be devastating, especially to older adults. A pet bereavement support group is held the third Wednesday of every month at 7:30pm. Please contact the Shelter for more information about this and other programs.
Rabbits as Pets
Not sure a cat or dog is the right choice for you? Consider a rabbit when deciding on your next pet. Rabbits can make great pets for older adults. They are often friendly, playful and affectionate. They can live in a contained space in a home, room or apartment and they can even be potty trained! They have an average life span of 8 to 12 years. Every rabbit adopted from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter comes with a free spay and neuter and seniors get a one-on-one rabbit care and enrichment consultation with a volunteer or staff person.