Dog service for seniors sees increasing interest in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Dog service for seniors sees increasing interest in Kamloops

Tianna Smidt, with ElderDog, says the service is picking up in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tianna Smidt
June 06, 2021 - 1:43 PM

A service that helps seniors look after their pets is attracting new clients and volunteers in Kamloops.

Tianna Smidt is a “PAWD leader” for the ElderDog Thompson Okanagan branch, a volunteer service connecting seniors with volunteers who assist with looking after their dogs. The non-profit originally formed in 2009 and is a national organization.

The Thompson-Okanagan branch began in February 2020, serving Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, but Kamloops has been slow to start, she said, adding they got their first client in the city a few months ago. In the Thompson-Okanagan, the branch has roughly 80 volunteers and 20 clients so far, she said.

“Our primary goal is keeping dogs at home with the seniors so they can maintain the companionship and not feel isolated without them,” Smidt said.

Volunteers provide everything from walks to transportation to the vet to emergency fostering and rehoming of dogs if seniors are unable to care for them.

“There was a dog that needed a home as the owner moved into a long-term care facility,” she said.

This February, they’ve seen between 10 to 15 Kamloops volunteers sign up so they’ve been connecting with clients.

READ MORE: Why Valentine’s Day went to the dogs at Kelowna retirement community

“A lot of our clients are really isolated, so not only do they keep their relationship with their dog, but they get to create a relationship with the volunteer, so that might be the only contact they get every day when a volunteer comes to walk their dog,” she said.

“I think that having the emergency foster is an amazing service, it makes seniors feel OK to have a pet, knowing that someone will be there to watch their dog if they had to go to the hospital,” she said.

During the pandemic, COVID-19 caused delays with the program’s launch but the last six months they’ve been ramping up efforts with COVID-19 precautions in place. Volunteers bring their own leashes and avoid going into senior homes.

Fundraising efforts have also been challenging, she said.

Clients and volunteers can sign up through the ElderDog website or by calling 1-855-336-4226.

ElderDog is is non-profit that allows seniors to keep their pets with the help of volunteers.
ElderDog is is non-profit that allows seniors to keep their pets with the help of volunteers.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tianna Smidt


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