“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.” – Sydney Jean Seward
My dad is fond of saying that “rescued pets love you more.” He believes they truly appreciate the face that you took them from a situation where they were not receiving the care and attention they needed and gave them a good home.
For some reason I have always felt like his idea was a little bit silly. It’s not that I really disagreed with him, I guess I just hadn’t spent much time thinking about it. That changed one recent morning when I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Pease, a founder of Senior Pet and Animal Rescue (SPAAR). SPAAR’s founding was the result of two friends, who were experienced volunteers in animal shelters around Pittsburgh, comparing notes and realizing there was a real need for helping families to keep their senior pets and helping to rescue senior pets that no longer had a home.
What do they do?
SPAAR’s mission, in simplest terms, is to make sure that senior pets (6+ for dogs and 8+ for cats) are being taken care of by a family that loves them. sometimes that means helping a family that cannot afford to care for their senior pet by assisting with medical bills and supplies via a program called Ferdiand’s Fund. Other times it means helping to find a foster home or new adoptive home for a senior pet when a local shelter hasn’t had success in finding a willing family.
Additionally, a unique aspect of SPAAR’s mission is to provide hospice care for pets that have been given a terminal diagnosis. As these cats and dogs are often especially difficult to find a match for, SPAAR seeks to not only find homes for these pets, but has also fostered relationships with local veterinarians to provide appropriate end-of-life care that allows for comfortable and love-filled final days.
Why do they do it?
Beyond simply being animal lovers, SPAAR’s founders Laura Broklebank and Jennifer Pease saw first-hand the gap that existed for senior animals when it came to finding homes and meeting high costs. Each had experienced this with her own pets and witnessed it while assisting in local shelters.
On average, older pets tend to be both more expensive to care for and more difficult to find homes for. This can make for a difficult set of circumstances but it is also exactly the reason why SPAAR exists. An older pet can be the perfect match for some homes, and SPAAR wants to help make those connections.
How can you help?
As with all the groups that we will be profiling on Better the Burgh, SPAAR has a real need for financial assistance. Even with the good relationship they enjoy with local vets, the hospice care in particular, can become very costly. Beyond this, in-kind donations are very much appreciated. SPAAR tries to provide everything necessary for foster parts to care for their cats and dogs: food, toys, cleaning supplies and everything in between.
If you’d be interested in jumping in with both feet, SPAAR is also looking to add to its list of foster homes. There is an application and interview process, but your willingness to open up your home can give SPAAR the ability to meet the needs of even more senior animals from the Pittsburgh area. Finally, many of the pets currently in foster care are also available for adoption. The application process is fimilar to that for fostering, but you’d be helping to achieve SPAAR’s ultimate goal by providing a final, loving home for a cat or dog who would relish the chance to curl up next to you, share some warmth, and receive a thorough ear scratching.
If SPAAR sound like an organization you’d like to get behind, please visit their website via one of the links above to learn more. And keep your eyes open for the fun events they are scheduled around town. I’ll close with a little video I stumbled across that extols the virtues of owning an older dog. I think you’ll find it is five minutes well spent.