Farragut resident Cindy Reinhardt has found a win-win situation to help the elderly going into assisted living or nursing home care deal with their pets.
Reinhardt, who lives off Lakeland Drive, has been taking in pets of those senior citizens for about eight years. She makes and sells soy candles to help pay for the food and veterinary costs.
The mission started when she was visiting senior citizens while her parents were in rehab. Previously an industrial engineer, Reinhardt had to forego her career to care for her elderly parents.
“My mom and dad were bed-bound,” she said. “I took care of them for 10 years, and there were times we would go into rehab (at senior facilities).”
While there she met many of the residents. “They were so upset about their pets more than anything,” Reinhardt said. “So I decided I would make my cause to be picking up pets when people had to go into nursing homes.
“It makes me feel so good,” she added. “I love elderly people. I know how happy it makes them, and it makes me just as happy.
“And I love animals. My friends say I’m obsessed, but you have to be obsessive to take care of them. It’s very important to me that they get good care.”
Reinhardt takes in dogs and cats; some remain indoors while others are more outdoor pets.
Her limit on the number of animals she can take care of is 15, which is what she has now.
“I live on six acres, so they have plenty of room to play and run, which is good because some of them are active. But most elderly people have elderly pets,” Reinhardt said.
She pointed out she does not foster, nor does she “re-home” the animals. “They’ve already been traumatized by losing their owner, so I keep them until they pass away,” Reinhardt said. “And I stay in touch with the people and let them know how well their little furry children are doing.
“It makes me happy, it makes them happy and it makes the pets happy,” she added.
Reinhardt moved to Tennessee from Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, where she was well-known, including by the animal control staff. “I had a lady bring her cats all the way from Smith Mountain Lake to me, here, because she didn’t want anyone else to have them,” Reinhardt said.
She also has taken pets from rescue groups. “If there is a need, I’ll step up as long as I have space for them,” she said.
For more information, call 540-525-9915.