Liam Butler interviews Ric Odom, Chief Executive Officer, Royal New Zealand SPCA 

Ric, when older people get unwell how can they ensure their pets get adequate exercise?

Ric Odom: If you’re having trouble meeting your pet’s exercise needs, we suggest you ask your family, friends and neighbours for support. You could also ask for assistance from members of community groups, or other pet owners who may be happy to walk an extra dog each day. There are also dog walking and dog sitting services who charge to walk your dog or look after it while you are unable to.

Pets can be a precious companion for older people. Do you have any concerns about the amount of money older people can spend on pet remedies that have not been proven to have medicinal value?

Ric Odom: We suggest that all pet owners build up a good relationship with their vet, and take their advice on care and any medical treatment needed for their pets.

How can older people who live houses too small for a pet volunteer at the SPCA to enjoy the benefit of time with the animals they love?

Ric Odom: SPCA centres across the country always need volunteers to help the animals. Often centres struggle to find people to help during the weekdays, so if you are retired, working short shifts Monday – Friday could be a great option.

Some volunteering work with the animals can be more physically demanding and might not suit, but many SPCAs also require volunteer assistance with administrative work , lighter activities with smaller animals, , gardening, cleaning and even in the laundry. If you’re interested in volunteering, it’s best to talk to your local SPCA and chat with them about what kind of work would be best for you.

If you can’t commit to an animal full-time, but could offer a temporary home then fostering is a great way to help give an animal a second chance at life. Many of the animals that come into the SPCA need a little extra TLC before finding their forever home, and foster parents help them while they recover from surgery, illness, or put on a  little more weight.

Without volunteers, the SPCA simply wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do, and this help is always gratefully received.

Can you please give some tips for an older person wanting to adopt an animal?

Ric Odom: The most important thing to consider for any person wanting to adopt a pet, is if it matches your lifestyle and energy levels. For example, if you’re unable to commit to daily walks with a dog, you could consider adopting a small animal, or if you’d like a calm and quiet pet, a lap cat would be a great choice.

Adopting a senior animal rather than a puppy or kitten might be a good option as they generally have less energy and are more settled with an established personality. There are thousands of animals at SPCA centres across the country, so if you can open your heart and home to an animal we encourage you to look at rescuing one of these. Our SPCA staff and volunteers will be able to help match you with the perfect animal for you.

About Liam Butler