Sue Vincent has long been a “dog person.”
But as she got older, canines became difficult to keep up with. While Vincent, who resides in The Willows assisted living facility in Gunnison, was no longer able to go on the long treks she was accustomed to, she still missed the companionship of pets.
“When I fell, I couldn't walk anymore,” explained Vincent, who still longed for a companion. “I said ‘I have to have something, so one day I called GVAWL.”’
Vincent wasn't sure if she would be able to adopt a pet, given the associated costs. But soon, she learned that she qualified for the Silver Whiskers Program, created by the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League (GVAWL).
Vincent decided to take a leap of faith and applied for the program. Before she knew it, she had an 8 year old cat named Callie to bring home. Callie quickly became one of the friendliest cats around. The animal loves to socialize with Vincent and other visitors to her home.
“She just gets on people’s laps,” laughed Vincent. “She’s very, very friendly. She loves people.”
Vincent and Callie now have a relationship of love and care that’s growing to this day. Callie loves to meet new people, and she loves treats too.
Silver Whiskers’ mission is to match companion animals with adopters who may not be able to sustain the costs of pet ownership on a fixed income. For community members who are living on a limited income such as Social Security, Veterans Disability or retirement benefits, Silver Whiskers has become a perfect solution.
Silver Whiskers’ companion animals are often older with more mature personalities. Residents of Gunnison and Hinsdale counties living on a fixed income are encouraged to submit an application for adoption.
The program will waive any adoption fees upon acceptance into Silver Whiskers, and GVAWL also provides ongoing supplies and services ranging from cat litter to food, vaccinations to annual wellness visits.
“They provide the food when I need food — if I need something they bring it,” explained Vincent.
Additionally, if a member of the Silver Whiskers program is unable to care for their animal, they are permitted to bring the pet back to GVAWL.
Sue Knowles, the cat coordinator and a board member of GVAWL, said there are currently three cats in the program in Gunnison, but Knowles hopes to see that number grow.
Erika Sublett, the shelter manager for GVAWL, said the program gets its momentum from word of mouth.
“They seek us out,” she explained. “You can have a dog in your life where we cover all the expenses for you.”
There are community members who could use the program but simply haven’t reached out to take advantage of it, said Sublett.
“I feel so very fortunate,” added Vincent. “It’s just a wonderful program.”
(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org .)