Love After Life: Retirement Homes for Pets
Once you’ve finalized the process of adopting a dog or cat into your North Texas home, the process is supposed to be easy: train him, love him, play with him, and live happily together furever. You’ve done everything you can think of to make sure your pet is well-taken care of: premium kibble, tons of toys, proper vet care and plenty of cuddles.
We’ve already discussed the pawsitive benefits of pet ownership for seniors: more exercise, unconditional love, and constant company are just a few. But what happens to your beloved pet if he happens to outlive you?
This sad question has been a problem for many pet-owners across the globe. Domestic pets need people—they simply can’t fend for themselves, and many family members are unable to take their relatives’ pets during these hard times. In fact, only one in three cats that lose their owners find new homes.
Enter retirement homes for pets.
Yes, retirement communities are no longer just for the elderly human. These homes have emerged as a new industry to assure that after owners die that their adored animal is still cared for. Animal welfare organizations began to realize that survivor care for their animals was an added burden on seniors, many of whom resisted moving into assisted living facilities for fear of what could happen to their pets.
These pet retirement homes differ from shelters by their philosophy: rather than trying to find new homes for these animals, the retirement homes are meant as permanent sanctuaries for their inhabitants.
Gone are the days of pets being seen as mere property; people now see their pets as adopted members of the family. Susan Hamil, chairman of the board of directors for the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, agrees that deeper love prompts better planning for pets. “The question of ‘what would happen if something happened to me?’ now extends to ‘what would happen to my cat?’” she said.
These pet retirement homes are usually only for old dogs and senior cats, although there are a few for horses and other large pets. The most common inhabitants are city-slicker pooches who are too old for the rigors of apartment living, pups whose owners are no longer able to care for them and dogs whose owners have passed away. They are particularly good options for elderly pets whose likeliness of getting adopted are slim through orthodox means.
This service is reserved through an enrollment fee, and owners set up endowment funds to cover the costs of medical care for the rest of the pet’s life.
In Japan, people have legal responsibilities to their pets until their deaths. As such, it’s probably little surprise that the Land of the Rising Sun is home to one of the most deluxe of retirement communities for pets. Here, lap dogs can live in the lap of luxury with access to a swimming pool, doggie gym, lavish kennels, and round-the-clock veterinarian care. Of course, this furst class community comes at a price—it costs a whopping $1,000 USD per month.
Even if your budget is a little more humble, you’re sure to find a home-y house for your furry friend, whether you choose a modest house or an idyllic country farm. Pet retirement homes try to recreate a homelike atmosphere, complete with cozy nooks for sleeping and grooming tables.
Choosing a retirement home for your pet requires a lot of up-front planning and time. Here are three major things to consider when making your decision:
- Health and Safety: Perhaps most importantly is the knowledge that your pet will be well-taken care of in his new home. Check whether or not the facility is licensed with animal control and take note of its latest inspection score. Does the retirement home have on-staff vets?
- Finances: No matter how nice the facility, if you can’t afford it, your pet’s future isn’t guaranteed. Ask whether the organization will share its financial records, so you can be sure it won’t run out of funding.
- Layout: After considering what your budget will allow, make two lists: one of “must haves” and one of “would likes.” Consider your pet’s personality: is she a pet a social butterfly who would like a larger facility with many other animal or a skittish kitty who would probably appreciate something with more one-on-one time with people?
While this is a sad decision, it’s also one that you should feel proud of: when you consider a retirement home for your pet, you are doing everything you can possibly do to ensure they’ll live a long, healthy life.
Sharon Worrell, of the Cohn Family Shelter at Oklahoma State University’s veterinary school, perhaps said it best: “Pet owners can feel secure in the knowledge that their pets will receive the love, care and attention they enjoyed at home.”
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