Pets help older adults get active, stay active, and connect with others
There’s much evidence that shows the health benefits of pets for older adults. Pets can reduce anxiety and loneliness, and can increase socialization and exercise for older adults.
On the flip side, pets can also be a challenge for older adults. They can have costly health situations that are unpredictable. When older adults experience changes in their level of mobility, that might impact a pet even more.
Good news: Champaign-Urbana is about a pet-friendly community as they come, especially for those to love to be out and about with their animal companions. And, there are many out in the community who want to make it easier for older adults to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership.
Where to Find a Pet
There are a multitude of rescue organizations around Central Illinois. Below, we highlight those that specifically offer a special program for pet ownership or resources to older adults – or senior pets.
Don’t want to own a pet? Foster families are always in need. This is a shorter-term commitment, which could range from a few weeks to a few months. Some foster programs have residency requirements. Also, shelters and animal welfare organizations are always seeking volunteers – from folding newspapers to walking dogs to helping with back office tasks.
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY
The Champaign County Humane Society (CCHS) has served Champaign County for over a century and is the area’s only open-admission animal shelter.
Seniors for Seniors Program: The Champaign County Humane Society offers a program to match senior citizens with senior pets. “Seniors for Seniors” allows qualified people, age 60 and older, to adopt a cat or dog, 10 years or older with no adoption fee.
Foster Program: YES
Contact: 217 344.7297
Hospice Hearts is an all-volunteer, foster-based animal rescue in Central Illinois serving senior and special need cats and dogs whose owners are no longer able to care for them due to owner illness, nursing home admission, or death.
Adoption: Process requires an application, interview, vet reference and home visit. The adoption fee for a pet is a donation of the adopter’s choice to Hospice Hearts, a minimum of $100 for our dogs, $50 for cats and $75 for a bonded pair of cats.
Foster program: YES. Foster homes must live within one hour of Champaign-Urbana, IL. Fostering an orphan generally is a two to six week commitment.
Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation (DMCASF)
The mission of DMCASF is to support the well being of homeless animals in its community. DMCASF raises funds to provide care and treatment to the animals held at Macon County Animal Control and Care Center.
Adoption: Any adopter age 60 or older can adopt a pet for a reduced rate of $40; all pets 5 and up are $40. (Typical rate is $75.) All pets are spayed/neutered, up to date on age appropriate vaccines, and micro-chipped. Applications are available online or in person.
Foster program: Yes. Foster homes must be approved by the Shelter Manager or the Adoption Coordinator and must be located in Decatur or Macon County.
Pet Central Helps (Bloomington, Illinois)
Pet Central Helps is an animal rescue serving Central Illinois with its primary location in Bloomington, Illinois. While its facility is under construction, all pets are in foster care.
Adoption: Adopters age 65 or older who adopt a cat or dog age 7 years or older are eligible for our senior discount. SENIOR ADOPTION SPECIAL fees are always $50 or less. Senior adoptions also come with a special adoption kit for cats and dogs.
Foster program: YES, but must live within 15 minutes of Bloomington.
Vermilion County Animal Shelter
A shelter located in Tilton, Ill., next to Danville.
Adoption: Adopters age 65 or older receive $40.00 off regular adoption prices (regular prices: typically $125 for dogs, $90 for kittens, $75 for cats). All pets are spayed/neutered, up to date on age appropriate vaccines, and micro-chipped, and have been examined by a local vet. Includes leash, collar and food when available.
Foster program: YES.
For senior pets (cats and dogs 10 years or older) Mahomet Animal Hospital will provide FREE exams for the for the rest of the pet’s life, as well as 25% off all tests and services (including surgery and dental work), and 10% off medications/drugs. This is regardless of the age of the human adopter.
On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, the UI College of Veterinary Medicine & Champaign County Animal Control offer pet wellness clinics for qualified low-income pet owners living in Champaign County. Available services (at no charge) include wellness exams, vaccines, bloodwork, dentals, and other veterinary services. Appointments are required; call 217-384-3798.
Champaign County Humane Society offers low cost spay/neuter options for pet owners. For eligibility and more information, call 217-344-7297, Ext. 11, and leave a message.
If you don’t qualify for these resources, it never hurts to ask at your vet’s office for a senior discount.
Other Resources for Champaign-Urbana Pet Owners
Free registration tags: Champaign County Animal Control requires that all owners of dogs and cats over the age of four (4) months obtain a rabies vaccination for said animal and a County rabies tag through registration with Animal Control. Seniors over 65 years of age can receive up to two free registration tags at no charge for spayed or neutered pets. These are issued by the veterinarian.
Dog parks: Offered in many area municipalities, including Champaign and Urbana, as well as smaller communities such as Monticello and Paxton, dog parks are great for socialization of dogs – and humans alike. Dog parks offer the opportunity for dogs to go off leash in a contained space.
In Champaign and Urbana, dog parks are membership only. Residents get reduced rates on membership; members of one dog park get access to the other one for free. Dog park memberships are reciprocal with Urbana Park District’s dog park, so your membership is valid at both parks. Day passes are available for $5.
In Champaign, purchase a one-year membership for your dog to the Champaign Bark District online or at the Leonhard Recreation Center or Springer Cultural Center.
In Urbana, membership can be purchased at the Phillips Recreation Center.