Paws for Seniors creates lasting bonds between older adults and senior pets
“The best reward is seeing the transformation of a broken animal into a happy pet who is adopted to a loving family,” say Jim and Brenda Scamordella, co-founders of Paws for Seniors Pet Rescue in Bealeton. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit has been helping senior pets since 2011 with fostering, adoption, and hospice care of animals that come to their home, sometimes in the worst of conditions.
To date, over 1,775 senior animals have been rescued through Paws for Seniors, an impressive number for a small organization run out of the Scamordella’s home in Bealeton. With an excellent team of volunteers, they are now projecting 360 adoptions for 2020, and, with the help of Petsmart in Gainesville, have doubled, then tripled their number of cat adoptions in the last 2 years. Brenda also credits the organization’s very active social media presence in increasing adoptions.
Paws for Seniors is well known in the area as the place for senior animals to go for love and care. For their purposes, a pet is considered a senior at 7 years old, but the “rule” can be broken for a pet in need. Dogs and cats brought into the rescue are first evaluated for health problems, groomed, and then given all the love and cuddles possible as they adapt to their new environment and begin to feel safe. When they recover emotionally, the animals regain strength and their personality begins to peek through. “When they bark, it means they are happy,” says Jim with a grin.
Even though they have a network of about 10 available foster homes, there are sometimes more animals in need. The Scamordellas foster many of these pets themselves in their home.
But what sets Paws for Seniors apart from other rescues is their ability to match senior dogs with senior people. About 70% of the dogs adopted from Paws for Seniors are adopted by members of the older population in our community. As seniors become less mobile, they become lonely, and the company of a pet can make a huge difference in their lives. This creates a companionship between an animal and a human who understand each other. Senior pets and seniors may suffer similar medical issues, have the same energy level, and possess a desire to give and receive love, no matter the limited time they may have to give it.
Older pet owners may have a limited ability to lift heavier weights, so the smaller dogs this nonprofit specializes in make a better match. Older pets often have been around people their whole lives, so they are already socialized and trained. Also, as a general rule, the smaller the dog, the longer they live.
Bria upon arrival
Brenda and Jim possess a passion that is heartwarming to witness. Each pet has a story that has been written on the hearts of this special couple. “We are committed for life to each animal we work with,” says Brenda. They call Bria, a little white Maltese, their mascot. Bria arrived at Paws for Seniors malnourished and with severely matted fur, dental disease, mammary tumors, and a swollen and infected front paw. Jim and Brenda weren’t even sure she could be helped but their thoughts were: “would someone cast me out if I were in the same situation?”
But it wasn’t her outward appearance that made her case so special. Her spirit and soul were crushed from neglect. Bria and animals like her are the perfect examples of why Jim and Brenda do what they do. No matter what these animals have gone through, they don’t lose the ability to forgive. After being taken in by Paws for Seniors, they are put back together both psychologically and physically. “They change and become wonderful pets,” says Brenda, “and that is what it’s really about.”
Bria is unrecognizable now as compared to her original condition when she arrived. With some TLC, nutrition, an amputation, and vet care, her spunk returned. A video posted on the Paws for Seniors facebook page shows the moment they knew Bria was going to be ok… she began to bark!
Jim explains that Bria and a few other cases are on the more extreme end, but sometimes the needs the incoming animals have are as simple as dental care, nail trimming, and grooming. Madi Ross, owner of Purple Poodle Pet Salon, takes care of the grooming, which can include flea removal, shaving off matted fur, and medicated baths. With a little bit of care, the animals begin to blossom.
Moose and Bella came in as a bonded pair and a medical mess. Bella needed to be spayed, have her mammary masses removed, dental care, medicated baths, bloodwork, vaccines, ear medication, and skin irritation help. Moose needed just as much help in addition to having a mouth full of rotten teeth, and nails that were so long they were embedded into his paw pads, making walking painful. Donations from the community helped pay for expensive veterinary care. After Jim and Brenda worked their magic, they both quickly began to thrive and are ready to start their new chapter.
Although Jim and Brenda started small, Paws for Seniors has grown through the years with the help of volunteers, their veterinarian partners like New Baltimore Animal Hospital and Helping Hands Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care, and donations from the community. Jim and Brenda use the donations frugally to provide full vetting of each animal and strive to give them the best of care. They research to get what they need for the most affordable prices so they can use each donation wisely and to the fullest.
But what they didn’t quite expect was the positive impact Paws for Seniors has had on the senior community. The matches made between these animals that need care and “the amazing people who share the same passion” has rewarded Jim and Brenda in more ways than they even realized at first. “These people give our animals the best life for whatever time they have left,” says Brenda. Even animals who seem like they would never be adopted find homes.
To learn more about Paws for Seniors and make a donation to help these special animals in need, go to Pawsforseniors.org. Also, be sure to follow the nonprofit on social media to read their stories and see animals transform and become whole again.
While financial donations are always welcome, Paws for Seniors is also in need of more foster homes for pets in need, and more volunteers, particularly those with a take-charge personality to implement new programs and ideas.