ElderDog Canada Inc., a national non-profit, is launching a Nanaimo chapter or Pawd, and seeks volunteers to help older adults care for their canine companions. Pictured here, Barbara McAllister with Jetta. (Submitted photo)

Non-profit wants to get paws on volunteers in Nanaimo for senior dog care

ElderDog Canada opening chapter, or Pawd, in Nanaimo, COVID-19 measures being taken

A Canadian non-profit wants to get its paws on a few good volunteers in Nanaimo to help seniors with dog care.

ElderDog Canada Inc.’s aim is to offer supports to older adults in caring for their canine companions by helping with daily activities and while there are chapters, or Pawds, across the country, one in the Harbour City will see a soft start-up until the COVID-19 pandemic passes, as outreach is limited.

It’s all about the human-dog bond, Karen Lewis, national vice-chairperson, said.

“Things that we do, with precautionary measures, are walking seniors’ dogs for them and providing transportation for urgent vet care or temporary fostering, things like that,” said Lewis. “Picking up and dropping off dog food for another example, because as we all know, there’s a major lockdown happening everywhere and seniors are isolated. They’re scared [from] just the isolation alone, what can they do with their dogs?”

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Ardra Cole, ElderDog Canada founder, said temporary dog fostering is available to seniors who have to go to the hospital and the organization’s re-homing program will find a new, loving home for dogs whose senior companion has died or been relocated to a care facility.

Measures have been adopted to account for the coronavirus and the organization is in direct contact with an epidemiologist and veterinarian. According to experts the organization has consulted with, “there really isn’t any great risk of domestic pets transferring the virus,” said Cole.

At a press conference Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. medical health officer, expressed similar sentiments. While there have been coronavirus case reports involving dogs in Hong Kong, it was human-to-dog transmission.

“There does not seem to be a risk to humans from getting it from their pets, so it doesn’t seem to go back and forth,” Henry told the News Bulletin. “Humans can transmit it to some companion animals. They don’t seem to be transmitted to birds for example … there’s been some testing of livestock to see if it goes between humans and livestock and so far there doesn’t seem to be an issue there either, but there have been a few very small number of case reports with cats and dogs.”

Anyone can volunteer, as Cole said ElderDog Canada has people from across the spectrum, including young professionals and people who are seniors themselves.

For more information, go to www.elderdog.ca and to volunteer, call Lewis at 1-855-336-4226.


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