Spokane Valley senior home fosters senior dogs

SPOKANE, Wash. – It’s a bond like no other. Senior citizens in Spokane Valley are taking care of senior dogs so they don’t get left at the shelter. 

The “Hearts and Paws” program is a partnership between SpokAnimal and Sullivan Park Care Center. It’s a program that not only helps pups but those taking care of them. 

Every day, Patty Mitchell takes Cuddlebug outside. The 8-year-old lab mix is her responsibility, as well as many others at the local nursing home. They take on multiple shifts and roles to let the dogs out, feed them and more.

“Scared,” Mitchell said laughing when asked about taking on the responsibility. “Hope I do well. I’m doing it because I want to make it something good for them.”

Sullivan Park is fostering Cuddlebug until she gets adopted. 

The love the dog feels is reciprocated. It makes people like Patty know that they can still take care of someone, even while living in a nursing home. 

“When you get old, people don’t want you so much anymore but these animals are great. Every one we’ve had, has just been special,” said Vickie Aldridge, another resident who takes care of the foster dogs.

“I just feel like people don’t get old and dogs don’t get old. Nobody gets old. Nobody feels old even when they are old, right? So, I’m sure animals feel the same way,” Patty added.

Dori Peck, the executive director of SpokAnimal says people tend to adopt puppies, knowing that they won’t have as much time with older dogs. Senior dogs also have more ailments compared to puppies.

Peck says the partnership has been successful, especially since Sullivan Park Care Center is fostering its fourth dog in about two months.

“We would love to take this community-wide, though. Take our ‘Hearts and Paws’ program and take it to all the facilities that want us,” Peck said.

The foster program is entirely run by those at Sullivan Park. The staff let them have that ownership.

“I think them showing that, with strokes, dementia, mental illness, amputations, none of those things are going to stop them from being an active, valuable member of our society,” said Matthew Lysobey, the administrator of Sullivan Park Care Center.

The goal for the center is to get two dogs adopted per month. Peck says they’re adopting out dogs as quick as the senior dogs come in.

“I’m a little sad. I got attached to them. They’re just like my kids,” said Lunette Lines, another resident at the care center, of getting the dogs they foster adopted.

The center has a wall of fame for the dogs who find a forever home. They hope at the end of the year, they’ll be able to have a party and bring the dogs together again.

“I just hope we can save lots and lots of these beautiful animals,” Vickie said.

The dogs that are fostered at the care center are posted on SpokAnimals website. If you’re interested in adopting any of the dogs they get in, you can contact Patty at 509-847-3237.

Hearts And Paws Hall Of Fame

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