The Facebook meme about raising PAWS pets is real but needs context.

About 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted in the United States each year. According to survey data collected by the ASPCA.

People can adopt pets through shelters, rescue groups and other organizations, and sometimes those places offer programs or financial assistance to those who qualify.

Confirm reader Darlene. Emailed us a meme It saw more than 200,000 shares on Facebook promoting a pet foster program designed specifically for senior citizens who cannot afford pets.

“PAWS is looking for people over the age of 65 who live independently and want the companionship of a pet but whose finances don’t extend to pet ownership. A healthy, senior dog or cat. (sic) can join a nursing home as a permanent foster. PAWS will retain ownership and pay for food, litter and vet visits. This arrangement is a ‘win-win’ for cats and dogs who “Not adoptable due to their age and for seniors who want to enjoy the company of a pet,” the Facebook post said.

Darlene asked us if this was a real program, while others in the post’s comments asked for more information and if they could attend in places like Texas and California. Others asked if the program was only available in the US.


Is the pet foster program for seniors described in a viral Facebook meme real?



The pet foster program for seniors described in the viral meme is real, but it’s not a program that’s available nationwide. PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap, located in Washington state, offers this program to local residents.

What did we get?

This meme has been shared on Facebook for years as if the program being promoted is available for anyone to participate in. But there is no national program for seniors to adopt or “permanently” foster pets for free. The text of the meme actually comes from a local animal shelter’s website – not a national or global organization – and includes information about their own program for seniors.

The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap in Washington state has a program called Pets and Loving Seniors (PALS).

says the PALS page.“A healthy, older dog or cat can join your home as a permanent foster. PAWS will retain ownership and pay for food, litter and vet visits. A ‘win’ for those who are unlikely to adopt due to their age and for seniors who want to enjoy the companionship of a pet.

The text is almost identical to the text seen on the meme that went viral on Facebook.

What the meme omits to mention is that the service area for the program is only Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap County in Washington state, Frances Walker, interim executive director of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap, confirmed. told.

He said the meme has been a “thorn in their side” for weeks because the meme has not only been shared nationally, but globally.

“A woman assumed we could send a cat to her in New Jersey! I wish whoever made this meme had thought better of it and included the geographic service area – it’s very important.” ” Walker told the confirmation.

Mick Szydlowski, director of public affairs for PAWS (, a different animal welfare organization in Washington, told VERIFY that he has also fielded questions about the meme. They have one. Seniors for Seniors Program Open to Washington state residents, but does not cover animal costs as per meme states.

“(Mem) is not a message that we have given. There are many organizations that use the PAWS acronym, but they are not affiliated with us. I believe this particular message is from PAWS of Bainbridge Island and Kitsap County. is,” Szydlowski told VERIFY.

“I think it’s a little confusing,” Szydlowski said.

An animal rescue out of Tomsbrook, Virginia, called Paws for Seniors, also addressed the meme in a news release. Published on their website On the 7th of December

“The post regarding the Permanent Foster Program is a screenshot of a program operating out of Washington State that has had many people contacting us,” the statement on the website said. “We’re sure they’ve had a lot of inquiries. We hope and pray they’ll be able to serve the many potential pet parents who have pets for a full and healthy life.” Required.

This meme seems to have been circulating globally on Facebook for years, VERIFY found.

In December 2021, Paws of Cape Town, an animal shelter in South Africa, Shared the meme on his Facebook page. With the caption: “Fake news! If you want to promote (sic), this program is not American, so please do not contact us for more information.”

In February 2022, a shelter with the name PAWS based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Posted the meme on Facebook With a red X above the image. The headline said: “! This isn’t us! A screenshot is circulating from a different non-profit organization in Washington about a free, permanent pet foster program for senior citizens. It’s not from PAWS Atlanta.” Is!

In June 2022, a shelter called Paws for Life Animal League from Riverton, Wyoming also Posted on Facebook He said he has received calls and guests asking about the program seen in the meme. He called the meme “misinformation.”

There are shelters across the United States that have senior programs that help people over the age of 60 find companionship with a senior animal. Pets for the Elderly (PFE) Helps participating animal shelters pay fees, including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay and neuter. Here is a list. PFE shelters and the services they provide.

You should contact your local animal shelter or rescue organization in your area about an adoption or foster program.

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