Many seniors need companionship and someone to care for. At the same time, thousands of animals end up in Knox County shelters every year, in need of homes. Tennessee’s Knox PAWS, a non-profit organization, tries to bring them together.
For Chris Bault, District Lead of PetSmart in the Smoky Mountains, the ability to give back to the community through PetSmart is a huge perk. Bault chose Knox Paws as a PetSmart grant recipient in 2018.
“We are always looking for amazing organizations that are enhancing the bond between people and pets,” says Bault. “We loved that Knox PAWS matched seniors in the community with adoptable senior pets still looking for their forever home. This was a unique way to improve both the senior and pet’s quality of life.”
It’s about more than just placing dogs.
“Knox PAWS mission is to improve seniors mental, physical and emotional health by introducing a pet into their home,” says Bault. This is directly aligned with PetSmart’s vision and mission.”
According to Misty Goodwin, CEO of Knox Paws, animals can have a profound impact on health.
“Studies show that having a pet helps senior citizens with lowering blood pressure, reducing loneliness and stress, and improve physical and mental well-being,” says Goodwin. “Unfortunately, for many seniors on a fixed income, the expense of having a pet is prohibitive.”
At the same time, thousands of senior animals that would make excellent pets end up in shelters. Knox Paws works with animal shelters to match those senior dogs with senior citizens.
Program participants can apply for a pet. If they cannot afford essential items, such as dog food, it is provided to them through a partner organization.
The program has been an incredible success. Right now, the organization serves about 100 pets. Much of their funding goes toward veterinary care and supplies, so the PetSmart grant will help offset some of their costs.
“Knox PAWS will use the funds to continue to make owning and caring for a pet more affordable for Knoxville seniors,” says Goodwin. “Knox PAWS helps the eligible senior afford the adoption fee of the animal and any pet deposits required by landlords. The pet’s initial medical exam, vaccinations, microchip, and spay/neuter surgery are provided free of charge to the senior.”
Thanks to Knox Paws, senior animals and senior citizens in need of companionship will find one another.