Maine’s aging population and the number of senior pets looking for a new home could be the perfect match, according to those who work at the state’s animal shelters.
“It can really open up options,” Stacey Coventry, director of public relations at the Bangor Humane Society, said. “We have a growing elderly population in Maine, and if someone is still able to live independently at home or is living with supportive family, a senior citizen can really benefit from adopting an older pet.”
A senior dog or cat — a pet age 7 years or older — may not have the energy level of a puppy or a kitten, but Coventry said that for many people, what an older pet lacks in bounce in more than makes up for in experience and wisdom.
That is what retirees Kate, 70, and Jim Burke, 68, were looking for when they were ready to adopt a dog last month.
“We had talked in terms of adopting a senior dog for a couple of years,” Kate Bauer-Burke said. “We used to have black Labs and now have smaller King Charles Cavaliers, so we thought adopting an older dog with less energy would be a nice compromise.”
The retired Kennebunkport couple began looking online and came across the social media page for the Maine-based senior dog rescue group Old Dogs, New Digs, where a 10-year-old springer spaniel named Darla caught their eye.
“When we found out she was just over in Kennebunk, we went over to see her and volunteered to foster her,” Bauer-Burke said. “She was with us for two weeks, and we decided, ‘Yep, this could work,’ so now she’s ours forever.”
Like many rescue dogs, Darla — who the Burkes renamed Derry — had gaps in her personal history.
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“We understand she is from South Carolina,” Bauer-Burke said. “We were told she lost her family and home as the result of a hurricane.”
The couple’s two smaller dogs are registered therapy animals, and Bauer-Burke said Derry is fitting into her new home quite nicely.
“A lot of people think they can’t adopt a pet because they are too busy or they are older and not able to be as active as a young pet,” Coventry said. “A senior pet is often already housebroken, obedience and leash trained so it can provide all the benefits of a companion pet without requiring a lot of training.”
At the same time, she said, older…