Seniors get physical, mental benefits from companion animals -- Wednesday January 15th, 2020
Zodiak, the live-in cat at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes, poses for a photo in one of his favorite play areas just outside The Madison independent living center as resident Donna Zimmerman admires him from across the room. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
Seniors get physical, mental benefits from companion animals
Donna Zimmerman made an unexpected new friend as she moved into her room at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes late last summer: Mort, a big, chummy, black-and-white cat.
Mort greeted Zimmerman and her family at the door of the senior housing center on move-in day and proceeded to rub up against their legs and meow for scratches while they unloaded and unpacked boxes. Then, apparently tired from watching them do all that hard work, he made himself comfy and fell asleep, right on Zimmerman’s bed.
She didn’t mind it one bit.
“I’ve always loved cats,” Zimmerman said with a smile Monday. Having Mort there that first day felt “just like a personal reception” for her.
Cats remind Zimmerman of her late husband and the life they spent together on their farm. He was a cat-lover, too, she fondly recalled, and they always had at least one fine feline running around the farm.
Cats bring back good memories for her. They provide entertainment. They’re a source of comfort.
The same can be said for a lot of the residents at Ecumen — and the whole senior population in general. Research has shown that seniors benefit from the companionship and affection of pets in many ways
A quick Google search for “the health benefits of pets for seniors” pulls up 466 million results. Commonly cited benefits address both mental and physical health: Animals can help reduce stress, for example, as well as lower blood pressure. They’re also shown to lead to increased social interaction and physical activity.
Zodiak, relaxing at Ecumen on Monday, Jan. 13. His job at the assisted living and senior housing center, said Ecumen Executive Director Danielle Olson, "is to provide comfort to those who like him.” (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
Karin Haugrud, of the Fergus Falls-based Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging, recently submitted information on this topic to the Tribune.
“Doctors, social workers and other health care professionals believe companion animals are important in helping many people lead healthy, happy lives, especially elderly people,” Haugrud stated. “Many researchers are finding that the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease — it's loneliness. Love is one of the most important health tonics we have, and pets are one of nature's best sources of love.”
In addition to supplying companionship and affection, animals can also supply a sense of security and protection, she added. Pets make people laugh and divert their minds away from troubles. They also tend to broaden a person’s circle of friends and, through play and walks, encourage better health through exercise. Some pet programs at nursing homes are credited with enabling patients to reach out beyond their own pain and isolation and start caring about the world around them again.
“What we know, industry-wide, is that pets offer a little bit more comfort to our residents,” said Danielle Olson, executive director of Ecumen. “A lot of people had pets when they were at home, and that’s one of the things they miss when they come here.”
Ecumen welcomes visiting pets, and is a part-time home to Mort, who lives with an Ecumen employee but sometimes visits the campus during the day, and a full-time home to Zodiak, a live-in cat. Since Ecumen’s multiple buildings are all connected, the cats are able to wander from place to place, visiting whomever they want, whenever they want.
“He might be at the nursing home for a short period of time, then to adult day services, then he might go over to one of the apartment buildings, and then he makes his way back,” Olson said of Zodiak. “His job is to provide comfort to those who like him.”
Ecumen adopted Zodiak from the Marshmallow Foundation animal shelter in the fall of 2018. Since then, several residents have volunteered to help take care of him, feeding him and cleaning his litter box. Some try to lure him to their rooms for extra cuddle time by leaving little treats, water and toys outside their doors.
“Sometimes taking a little bit of ownership is something our residents appreciate,” Olson said.
She described Zodiak as “a very fun personality of a cat” who “really brings a lot of smiles and joy to people.”
While he’s independent and likes to wander all over at his own pace, he seems to have a good sense of where he’s most wanted — and needed, she said. And Mort is the same way.
“We’ve had a lot of people at the end of life who have had a visit from one of the cats,” Olson said. “They’ve said the cat went in and crawled into their bed with them and really provided a lot of peace and comfort. That’s come up a number of times in the last few months. The cat senses that there's a change and provides comfort to the family and the residents.”
Health benefits of pets for seniors
Lower blood pressure
Less chance of depression and loneliness
Increased physical activity
Increased social interaction
Improved memory recall
Eased anxiety and pain
Compiled from various sources, including agingcare.com
Things seniors should consider before getting a pet
Caring for an animal takes dedication. Be sure you have the time and means to take care of an animal, both physically and financially.
Think about which kind of pet would be best for you. Animal care professionals often advise seniors to consider adopting an adult dog or cat. An older animal may be a better fit for your lifestyle than a puppy or kitten.
Don't take a pet because someone else feels you should have one.
Don't let well-meaning but overly protective friends or relatives convince you that you should not have a pet. You know better then anyone else what you want and what your abilities are.
Info from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging
Here’s something to chew on: The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes is now the Marshmallow Animal Shelter.
The name change is only fitting, since it better describes what the not-for-profit operation actually does: take care of lost and abandoned dogs and cats, and either reunite them with their owners or find new homes for them.
The Marshmallow Animal Shelter also serves as the local pound and, so far this year, 500 cats and dogs have passed through the shelter and gone back to their owners or found new forever homes, according to Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman. There are now about 90 healthy, fixed, loving felines waiting for adoption there, along with about 15 healthy, fixed people-friendly dogs.
“Our mission statement is ‘improving our community by reuniting the lost and advocating for the unwanted,’” said board member Karen Skoyles. “We thought that pretty much sums up what we do as the pound, trying to reunite the animals that have gotten away with the people that love them,” or find them now homes when that doesn’t work out, she said.
The new name for the shelter was announced at an open house Saturday, Nov. 23.
A Crush Of Kitties-DL-Online -- Saturday October 5th, 2019
Connie Hammes cuddles with Kalani, one of the 80-plus feline residents at the Marshmallow Foundation, in this March photo. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
A crush of kitties: Shelters are full in Detroit Lakes and around the area
Written By: Nathan Bowe |
If you have room for an extra kitty or two, now is a good time to act: Animal shelters in Detroit Lakes and around the area are full, with long waiting lists, and adoption costs are low.
At the Humane Society of the Lakes, it’s cat craziness -- the pet shelter is stretched to capacity with friendly kitties waiting to be adopted, and there’s a long waiting list of people with cats and kittens waiting for room to open up at the shelter.
“We have 25 cats ready to go home today,” Shelby Rasmussen, development coordinator for the Humane Society of the Lakes, said Thursday, Oct. 3. Another 10 are isolated in a room at the shelter until they recover from respiratory illness. And there are 82 cats and kittens on the waiting list to get into the shelter when space opens up.
The shelter has a maximum capacity of 35 cats.
For some reason, “we’re seeing larger litters than usual -- we’re looking at eight to 10 kittens in a litter,” shelter manager Amber Sund said.
People on the waiting list are caring for cats, often mamas with large litters of kittens, in garages and outbuildings that won’t work well for winter shelter, Sund said. When room opens up at the shelter, they usually bring in whole litters, not just a solitary cat or two.
The cats at the Humane Society are friendly and domesticated, not wild or feral, and many of them are playful kittens, Rasmussen said.
The crush of cats is unusual, and it’s not just a problem in Detroit Lakes, she said.
“There are so many more than normal, and it’s not just us that are seeing this -- Cat’s Cradle (animal shelter) in Fargo is full, too,” Rasmussen said.
The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes is “buried,” said employee Connie Hammes. “The last time I counted, I think we have 89 cats.”
The cats there are friendly and loving. It’s hard not to visit without wanting to take one home.
On top of that, she said, “we have people calling in every day with more cats, and there’s no place we can send them -- we have all sorts of rescue friends and they’re all full. They have 220 cats in care at Cat’s Cradle. That’s a lot for them.” It’s unusual for shelters across the area to be full at the same time, she said.
The Marshmallow Foundation has a $50 adoption fee for cats right now, and they come spayed or neutered, vaccinated and tested for feline immunodeficiency virus.
The easiest way to adopt is to fill out an online application (paper applications are also available). Once it is approved, you can make an appointment, Hammes said.
“I get a lot of calls from people looking to surrender their cats. Sometimes they say they’re going to shoot them or drown them,” Hammes said. “If they have stray cats, we just don’t have a place for them -- we ask that they take care of them until there is a place for them.”
In the end, the solution is better birth control for the cat population.
“We just preach spay and neuter, spay and neuter,” she said.
Can you help?
ANIMAL SHELTER: To sweeten the deal for people thinking about taking home a kitty, the Humane Society of the Lakes is running a $65 adoption special through the end of this month. The $65 pays for spaying or neutering, microchip identification and vaccination shots, Development Coordinator Shelby Rasmussen said. “They get much more than $65 worth of stuff,” she said. “Let’s get these cats a home before the snow flies.”
Visit the shelter at 19665 US Highway 59, Detroit Lakes; email email@example.com; call 218-847-0511; or go to humanesocietyofthelakes.org.
MARSHMALLOW FOUNDATION: The foundation has a $50 adoption fee for cats right now, and they come spayed or neutered, vaccinated and tested for feline immunodeficiency virus.
This is a great time to adopt a cat at the Marshmallow Foundation, which has lowered its price to $25 (from $90) until the end of this month to relieve pressure at its shelter. Meagan Pittelko/Tribune
Cat lovers, time to step up: The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes could use some help.
The shelter had 86 cats at the end of last month, many more than usual.
"We were doing really good the past few years," said Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman. "But this year it kind of exploded."
The Marshmallow Foundation, co-located with Lucky Dog in the North Industrial Park off Richwood Road, serves as the city pound for Detroit Lakes and a half-dozen smaller cities in the area, including Frazee, Lake Park, Audubon, Osage and Mahomen.
Part of the influx comes from an owner in Sebeka who died and left 30 rescue cats behind, "It was unusual circumstances," said Ohman, and the Marshmallow Foundation agreed to take the cats, which are generally friendly and in good shape.
The shelter has about 40 cats that have been neutered or spayed and are ready for adoption.
"We have a ton of awesome cats right now, and their behaviors are all just fun ... they love being around people," Ohman said.
Another 34 cats at the shelter (including several kittens) are in line to go through the medical process before they can be placed up for adoption, and there are 15 cats in local foster care at private homes, as well as another four cats at PetSmart in West Fargo, which helps the shelter adopt-out cats.
"That's where a lot of our adoptions come from — they're very, very helpful," she said.
To encourage cat adoptions, the Marshmallow Foundation has lowered its fee to $25 (plus tax) until the end of this month, Ohman said. The fee is usually $90.
The Humane Society in Detroit Lakes also has an overabundance of cats, Ohman said. In fact, shelters and rescue organizations in Fargo-Moorhead and the Twin Cities are also full, which is unusual, she said. Usually, the metro areas are able to absorb some of the rural overflow, since there are more people there looking to adopt. But lately Ohman has been getting calls from Fargo shelters asking if Detroit Lakes has room to take some cats.
"I think a lot of the shelters and rescues are very, very full on cats," she said. A low-cost spaying and neutering program is very much needed in the area, she said.
To help with the flood of felines, Marshmallow Foundation volunteers are fostering 15 cats in a half-dozen or so homes, Ohman said. "For me, fostering is one of the most rewarding things," she said. "It's good to see them come out of their shell, come out of the shelter, and be a cat or a dog again." The foster family gets to know the animal and is in a good position to let an adoptive family know its personality, quirks, likes and dislikes, which makes matchmaking easier.
"We're always looking for volunteers and foster families," Ohman said. "We have some amazing volunteers," who work with the cats and help socialize the shy ones. "Some of our live-trap cats wouldn't have made it without them," she added. People can apply at www.marshmallowfoundation.org.
And yes, dog lovers, the Marshmallow Foundation also has canines available for adoption - there are about two dozen dogs there now, including two puppies, Ohman said. "People are a lot more willing to adopt dogs than cats," she said.
Abandoned pets are, sadly, pretty much an everyday occurrence at animal shelters like Detroit Lakes' Marshmallow Foundation.
But the kitten that was rescued by local resident Kyle Braaten from the city's yard waste dump site on Oct. 22 was a bit unusual, in that he was barely more than a week old.
"We don't usually get anything that small," said the shelter's manager, Cassi Ohman. "He was just a baby."
In fact, the kitten was so tiny that Braaten almost didn't find him at all.
"I finished up raking and took the leaves to the city yard waste dump north of town," Braaten said. "There were a couple of other vehicles there dumping leaves, one of them with a small dog.
"I heard a little peep, but I wasn't sure what it was, so I didn't follow up at first," he added. "But as I was working (on dumping the leaves), I could hear more peeps, so I began to look for the source."
After a few minutes, he found a tiny kitten almost buried under the leaves on one of the yard waste piles. I picked him up, and he wasn't injured at all. He was just looking around like he was hungry."
Not finding his mother or any other cats or kittens nearby, "I took him home and got him warm, then looked up what to feed him on Google, and got some supplies."
After a couple of hours of attempting to feed the kitten some of the egg yolk mixture he had found, using both a syringe and a cat bottle, Braaten realized he was going to need some help.
"He (the kitten) wouldn't eat at all," Braaten said. "So I called the city (police) dispatch, and they sent an officer over."
Officer Josie Johnson, who responded to the call, said she realized pretty quickly that the kitten was too small to just be left overnight in one of the cages at the Marshmallow Foundation, which is what normally happens when an animal is brought in after hours.
So she called Ohman, who arranged for Johnson to bring the kitten directly to a local foster home for overnight care.
"It was meowing the whole time," Johnson said, adding that she had the kitten in a box on the front seat of her squad car, "so the dispatcher was laughing pretty hard" when she called in to give an update on the situation.
"We put her into a foster home temporarily, because we don't have the staff here to be able to monitor and feed a kitten that small," Ohman said. "It's a lot better to get them into foster homes, where they can be warm and coddled."
The next day, the kitten was transferred to the Cat's Cradle shelter in Fargo, which specializes in caring for abandoned or surrendered pets with medical issues (such as the need for bottle feeding).
"We have 90 kittens in foster care right now," says Cat's Cradle executive director Gail Ventzke, adding that four of them came from the Marshmallow Foundation, which had also sent over a batch of three kittens discovered at another location in Detroit Lakes earlier that same day.
The one that was rescued by Braaten has been placed with a Fargo-area foster family that specializes in caring for really young kittens.
"He's doing absolutely wonderful," Ventzke said, adding that the kitten has been named "Chip" by the family. "It looked like he was probably about 10 days old when we got him. His eyes were open."
Though he resisted initial attempts by Braaten and others to feed him, both via syringe and nursing bottle, Ventzke said that's not unusual with kittens that small.
"They're not going to take to the bottle right away, they're not used to it and don't know what it is," she explained. "We will start them out with a syringe, then add a nipple to it, and when they're able to draw the syringe down, we switch to a bottle... he (Chip) was a little fussy at first, because of the texture of the nipple, but once he started getting the suckling down, he just really caught on quickly and he's wolfing down food like crazy now."
As soon as Chip is old enough, they will attempt to find him a permanent home, but until then, "he's safe and he's warm and cared for, and we will make sure that he gets all his shots and tests... he'll be fully vetted (for illness or disease) before he gets adopted."
And, like all pets that are adopted out of Cat's Cradle, they will make sure he gets neutered before he gets adopted as well, she added.
"We don't adopt out cats that aren't spayed and neutered," Ventzke said — in fact, they often use the same Fargo veterinary clinic, which offers a special rate for spaying or neutering animals in groups of five or more.
Braaten says he chooses to believe the kitten was lost accidentally, through having climbed into the pile of brush at the home where he came from and not being spotted before being brought to the dump that day, or a similar scenario.
"I would hate to think it was deliberate, especially with a kitten that small," he said.
Unfortunately, however, it's not as uncommon as people might think, Ventzke said.
"We get a lot of kittens," she said, referencing the fact that they are currently fostering out 90 of them in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Ace is a sweet boy that loves to be by your side and hang out! He would benefit from obedience classes with his adoptive family so that he could be assured of his proper place in his new family. Click on Ace's photo below to read the full article.
Austin, a 5-year-old Labrador retriever mix, would seem to have everything going for him: He’s good with other dogs, good with cats, good with kids, and even good with adults. Click on Austin's photo below to read the full article.
A community clothing drive fundraiser to benefit disabled veterans and homeless pets will be held from June 26 to July 3 at the Marshmallow Foundation, located off Richwood Road in the North Industrial Park in Detroit lakes. Click here to read the full article.
DL-Online -- Sunday May 17th, 2015
Pine Point students hold fun-run to raise money for stray animals