Sitters for Critters program is changing lives - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Sitters for Critters program is changing lives


Sitters for Critters, it has a nice ring to it, but it's also changing lives.  It's a new program in Niles that is giving senior citizens and people with disabilities, a furry friend.  The program unites people with rescue animals.  So, the animals get a new home and the people get companionship they wouldn't have otherwise.

One of the people in the program is Wayne Martin.  He and his dachshund, Buddy, have been living together for a few months now.  Martin said, "I like having Buddy."

Martin said Buddy has changed his life for the better.  "He's a companion."

A companion Martin is lucky to have.  "You get pretty lonely if you don't," said Martin.

Martin received Buddy through the Senior Sitters for Critters program.  It's a program just started this year in Niles by Clare DeHaan, the Founder of Furever Fosters.  "One of my neighbors, his wife had just passed away and he was really lonely so I placed a dog with him and I saw how much joy it brought him, it's like he came alive again," said DeHaan.

So she wanted to bring that joy to others.  She's now placed six animals with people like Wayne.  "Most of the dogs I get are from animal control or they're discarded throw aways that nobody wants anymore," said DeHaan.

One of those dogs is a Chihuahua named, "Baby Boy," who now lives with Daniel Eisele.  "He has made my life a lot happier.  He's brought a lot of joy to my life," said Eisele.

Daniel said before having Baby Boy, "It was awful lonely.  I spent a lot of days on the computer by myself."

Now, it is more difficult for Daniel and Wayne to take care of their pets.  Martin does have a tool to hook up to his wheelchair so he can walk Buddy,  But for the most part, this program works because DeHaan and three volunteers come in every day to walk the animals and help take care of them.  DeHaan spends more time on this than a full time job.  But she said it's all worth it.  "Because I'm bringing happiness to a lot of lives... It's a win-win situation because it saves a dogs life and pretty much it saves the persons life as well."

The person receiving an animal through this program doesn't have to pay anything.  DeHaan pays for everything out of pocket and with the help of a few fundraisers.  That includes pet food, toys, vet visits, and more.

DeHaan is hoping to grow the program.  She's hoping to find more people who would like animals and more volunteers to help take care of the animals.  If you're interested visit or call DeHaan at 269-425-2757.  You can also visit the Senior Sitters for Critters Facebook Page.


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