“Hearts and Paws” Dog Fostering Program at Sullivan Park Care Center


Sullivan Park Care Center, a Prestige Care Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and their residents have recently partnered with SpokAnimal C.A.R.E., an animal shelter in Spokane, Washington, to start “Hearts and Paws”.

This new dog fostering program is entirely resident-run and was established to find senior dogs a forever home while also allowing Sullivan Park residents to find purpose in caring for the dog during their own rehabilitation journey. While the residents are being cared for, they wanted to be able to care for someone else, so they started working with the animal shelter to start the Hearts and Paws program.  

The residents are able to foster one dog at a time and once the dog has been adopted, SpokAnimal brings in another senior dog for the residents to foster. Every resident has the opportunity to care for the senior dog, whether it is taking the dog for a walk, feeding them, or even just giving them cuddles.

“We take turns taking the dog out, brushing it, we could spend a lot of time with them,” mentioned Lunette Lines, Sullivan Park resident, during a KREM 2 interview.

While the residents spend time caring for the dog, Patty Mitchell, on-site adoption coordinator and resident, works with the community and SpokAnimal to find the senior foster dog a forever home. “We want people to know nursing home residents are still important in our society to do something important,” Patty said, “Dogs save people’s lives too.”

Hearts and Paws has brought excitement and purpose to the residents’ everyday lives as they overcome challenges such as Dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s Disease. Regardless of their abilities, they are all eager to show their dedication to contributing to their community and saving a dog’s life.

“It’s done a lot for all of us to have these dogs around and know that we’re going to get them a forever home,” said Vicky Aldridge, Sullivan Park resident, “It helps all of us, not just the dogs, it helps all the residents too. It makes us feel like we’re worthwhile still.”

“The residents are so excited for the opportunity to foster SpokAnimal’s wonderful senior dogs.,” said Matthew Lysobey, Administrator of Sullivan Park, “It is amazing to see so many residents with significant physical and cognitive challenges overcoming all obstacles because of their commitment to saving senior dogs and making a difference in their community. We’re all looking forward to welcoming and saving the next senior shelter dog.”

Hearts and Paws is the first program of its kind at SpokAnimal with the hope of getting older dogs adopted and out of the shelters. Since the foster program was established in March 2022, the residents have successfully fostered and found a forever home for four senior dogs – Gretchen, Kaviar, Rocky, and Cuddle Bug. As the program continues, their goal is to have two senior dogs adopted per month.

“The older dogs are our hearts and souls so to have another outlet for this and to have them be loved and cared for like this is beyond words for us,” says Dori Peck, Director of SpokAnimal.

The senior foster dogs at Sullivan Park are posted on the center’s Facebook page, as well as SpokAnimal’s website. To find out about adopting the current foster dog, contact Patty on the adoption hotline at 509-846-3237.

Source: “SpokAnimal launching “Heart and Paws” Program”, KREM 2, 04/14/22