Fostering Kindness Between People and Pets

A man, Buzz Miller, smiling in a home with a dog
Buzz Miller is with Buddy, an older dog and foster from an owner who had Alzheimer’s disease. “We took him in at 14,” he says. (Credit: Alex Lowy/PACT for Animals)

As a volunteer at a number of animal shelters, Buzz Miller, 80, remembers military personnel sitting on the shelter floor sobbing because they were shipping out and had to surrender their pets.

“That’s no way to treat brave servicemen and women,” he says.

At the time, he was a real estate and business lawyer. It left him financially comfortable. But volunteering with dogs and cats at the shelters brought him more satisfaction than practicing law. At the shelters, he met people who fostered pets.

Studies show owning a pet encourages conversations and new friendships. Check out this story from Staying Sharp on How Pets Help Us Make Social Connections.

“Some people aren’t ready to adopt,” he says. “Fostering is a commitment, but it’s not permanent. I thought about matching fosters with the pets of deployed soldiers.”

In 2004, he retired from his law practice to volunteer with animals and in 2011 he founded PACT for Animals (People + Animals = Companions Together). “I was 70 at the time and thought I should do something I love,” he says.

Today, PACT operates throughout the United States. In a typical year, 250 dogs and cats find temporary homes with people who volunteer to foster.

“Our best fosters are older people in their 60s and up who had a pet, but don’t want to own one,” Buzz says. “Fostering gets people out of the house. Many go to local dog parks and meet other dog owners. Walking a dog is good exercise. And dogs and cats make great companions.”

PACT was so successful that Buzz started a similar program for patients in hospitals.

To find out more about Buzz and PACT for Animals, read the full article “Fostering Success” in Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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