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Keeping elderly pet parents together with their companions

On Behalf of | May 11, 2018 | Guardianships & Conservatorships |

From an adopted chihuahua to a special cat or bird, pets brighten days for many in various stages of retirement. And in some cases, they may even serve in a support role helping their person through Arrhythmia attacks or other medical conditions.

When on a fixed income, however, the costs of veterinary care or behavioral training may be too much. Not all assisted living and few skilled nursing long-term care centers allow animals, which can also lead to separation.

Harley’s Hope

A Colorado Springs couple decided to do something to solve the first of these issues. Their goal is preventing surrender or euthanasia of at-risk animals who have treatable conditions and behaviors.

With Harley’s Hope Foundation (named after their rescue dog who died of cancer), they offer financial help to pay for major/emergency vet care and certain training. A special service animal aid fund helps cover veterinary services regardless of location in Colorado, diagnosis or the type of service provided by the animal. For those temporarily unable to care for a pet because of an illness or surgery, they offer short term foster care.

The Foundation helped keep an 83-year-old widow together with her Min Pin Mix, Pepper. Diagnosed with Pancreatitis, Pepper was on an IV and fluids for almost three days and then prescribed a special diet. Harley’s Hope helped the widow pay the hefty vet bill and get Pepper recognized as a certified service animal.

Neat community resources like these exist across Colorado.

Transitions to assisted living or a nursing home

Various studies have found that having an animal to care for can give life purpose. These relationships are important. What happens to an animal needs to be carefully considered.

A child, grandchild, neighbor or friend might be able to step in. A pet needs trust is one way to defray animal care costs, such as vet services for an older pet or grooming for various breeds. This option is often preferable and may even allow for continued visits.

Depending on the age or type of animal there may be organizations that will provide special matching services. Some breeders may even help find a new home for an animal companion (for instance, a Maine Coon breeder includes this in placement contracts).

Elder law attorneys can often direct families to community resources as they assist families with transition. This is especially important when a loved one needs additional care, but worries about what will happen to an animal companion.