Tracey Gould is celebrating 25 years working at Senior Coastsiders, including 17 years as the community’s much-beloved care manager. To honor the milestone, the organization is launching the Pet Buddy program. Gould explains why this new initiative is close to her heart and how it will benefit the lives of seniors and their pets.

- Why do you think the Coastside needs a program like this?

“During the 25 years I’ve worked at Senior Coastsiders, I’ve often seen the difficulty seniors have in looking after their pets. Pets can be expensive and many of our seniors are on fixed incomes and struggle to make ends meet. Another difficulty is that they sometimes have health issues that make them unable to take care of their pets. Having a Pet Buddy program will enable Senior Coastsiders to provide both financial and volunteer help.”

- How do you envision the Pet Buddy program working on the Coastside?

“Seniors who need support can contact us and we will work with them on a case-by-case basis to see how we can best be of service.”

- How are pets important to the health of seniors?

“Pets can help improve both the physical and mental health of seniors. Pets also help them feel less lonely and isolated. This was particularly important during COVID-19, when so many older adults were alone while they were sheltering in place.

“Pets provide unconditional love and companionship and are a source of affection, activity and numerous physical and mental health benefits, such as increasing social interaction and physical activity and reducing blood pressure, stress, and symptoms of depression.”

- Can you give any examples of how a pet made a difference in a senior’s life?

“I’ve seen pets change the lives of many seniors over the years. Recently, one of the people I work with, who was reluctant to adopt a pet because of her advancing age, found a 20-year-old cat that nobody else seemed to want because it was already quite old. She adopted the cat, who quickly became her best friend. They brought each other joy and companionship in their final years together.

“Another participant had a dog that died. She was heartbroken and thought she would never have another pet, but eventually she decided to adopt another dog and found the perfect match. They are inseparable. I was so pleased to be able to help with these adoptions and many other pet-related issues over the past years.”

- How can individuals help?

“There are two ways that people can help. One is to volunteer with our Pet Buddy program to do things like dog walking, feeding pets, cleaning and delivering food and supplies. Another way to help is to donate to our program. Donations will be used for things like food, immunizations, toys and treats.”

To find out about volunteering or donating, please visit SeniorCoastsiders.org and check out the Pet Buddy program page or call (650) 726-9056.

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