December 2, 2022

Keeping dogs and their senior owners together. This CNN Hero delivers ‘Peace of Mind’

5 min read

Pacific Grove, CA

Owning a dog has been shown to improve the quality of life of senior citizens, increasing their activity and socialization. But what happens as seniors age and care for their pets becomes more difficult?

Kerry Brooker learned about the problem more than a decade ago while helping an elderly woman care for her dog. Brooker and the woman, Alice, met five years ago, when Alice adopted Brooker the dog. After Alice develops emphysema, she reaches out to Brooker for help.

Brooker took care of the dog, Savannah, while Alice attended medical appointments. When Alice was later transferred to hospice, Brooker would bring the dog to visit. In Alice’s final days, her biggest worry was what would happen to her dog after she passed.

“I said I promise I’ll make sure Savannah gets a good home,” Brooker said. “She was so relieved that I could promise her that.”

After leaving this tour with Alice, Brooker had an idea that would become his life’s work.

“I remember it as clear as day,” Brooker said. “The whole concept of Peace of Mind Dog Rescue came to me: the name, and that we would take dogs from senior citizens who died.”

Brooker co-founded the nonprofit with Monica Rova, who also worked in animal rescue and incorporated the idea of ​​rescuing senior dogs from shelters. In 2009, Peace of mind saving the dog born.

The organization takes in dogs from senior citizens who are no longer able to care for them, have moved into a nursing home or passed away. Many times, it is family members who approach the organization to surrender their elderly family member’s dog.

“Oftentimes, the dog may be the last connection you have with that person,” Brooker said. “You’re giving away a part of that person who was very special to you. So, it can be really hard.”

Peace of Mind Dog Rescue finds these dogs new homes and checks the dogs every year for the rest of their lives.

“We’ve seen time and time again that dogs can adjust after losing their person and become part of a new family,” Brooker said. “You’d love for them to be there forever, but when that’s not possible, we’re really glad we’re here as a safety net.”

Generally, a senior does not need to surrender their dog, they just need some help. As part of the organization’s dog-walking program, a volunteer will visit a senior’s home to walk their dog for 30 minutes or an hour.

“We can maintain that human-animal bond and make that person’s life better and brighter through our services … it’s about honoring the elderly,” Brooker said.

The nonprofit also helps senior dogs find forever homes. Overcrowded shelters can make it difficult to give senior dogs the attention they need, so Peace of Mind Dog Rescue is in contact with local animal shelters to find out which senior dogs they can take in. Can stretch and help with adoption.

CNN hero Carrie Brooker

After medical practice, dogs are placed in foster homes. The organization has more than 160 foster homes available that provide a comfortable place for dogs to live and allow the adopter to learn how the dog behaves in a home environment.

The dog is then put up for adoption. Brooker says she is upfront with adopters about any medical issues, as many senior dogs have some degree of medical needs.

“It blows us away time and time again how someone would love a goofy-looking blind chihuahua with a tongue hanging out and all kinds of medical problems,” Brooker said.

To date, the organization has helped 2,000 senior citizens and found homes for nearly 3,000 dogs. For Brooker, this work is about allowing seniors to move through their final stages of life with dignity.

“In our society, sometimes the elderly, whether they’re elderly people or big dogs, are overlooked,” Brooker said. “We really want to love the whole life.”

CNN’s Meg Dunn spoke with Brooker about her work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

CNN: Your organization has recently opened a veterinary clinic. How has it helped your work?

Carry Broker: After about 10 years of operating Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, we realized we needed our own veterinary clinic. We used to contract with about 15 different veterinarians in the area. And they were all wonderful, they gave us a discount, but it was a lot of administrative management of medical records, and it was cost prohibitive. But now, with our own vet clinic, we can save even more and save a lot of time.

We have our own veterinary staff, so all dogs are given a full checkup, heartworm test, senior blood panel, urinalysis. Many times they need X-rays or ultrasounds for various things, biopsies of any type of mass.

CNN: You have expanded your program to help only seniors.

Broker: We have our own Helping Hands financial aid program. So low-income pet guardians — and a lot of senior citizens are in that low-income category — if they need veterinary care and can’t afford it, we have people applying every year. There are $500 grants to give away. And sometimes it’s just an ear infection, sometimes we’re paying because a dog breaks a leg and we’re contributing $500. But this is how we help keep people and their animals together.

CNN: Why do you think people should adopt a senior dog?

Broker: There are many benefits to adopting a senior dog. They are usually calm and have some form of training. They usually get how life works, and it’s very rewarding for that person. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but I really feel like they’re grateful, and they know what they’ve been through, and once they settle, there’s a sense of relief. .

When they finally curl up and lie down and just take a breath, you’re like, “Well, they just realized they’re home.”

Want to join? check this out Peace of Mind Dog Rescue website And see how to help.

Donating to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue via GoFundMe, Click here

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