News & Politics  |  Pets

A New DC Program Lets Housebound Seniors Sign Up for Zoom Sessions With Rescue Animals

Dogs, kittens, guinea pigs—and a chicken—are all taking part.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Just as humans are hitting peak Zoom fatigue, a new initiative is putting animals in front of the screen. The Humane Rescue Alliance is teaming up with the DC Department of Aging and Community Living to host Zoom sessions between DC’s elderly population and a Zoo’s worth of rescue animals, including dogs, kittens, guinea pigs—and a chicken.

“We know that human-animal bond is so critical and it’s been even more so in this past year, and really sort of been a lifeline for socialization when so many of us have been isolated,” says the Humane Rescue Alliance’s digital director Dani Rizzo.

The first video call happened Thursday, during which five seniors invited by the city’s Department of Aging hung out virtually with five different pets (including the chicken). Seniors who want to participate can contact the department to get involved and schedule a session. The eventual goal is to match animals with seniors for repeated meetings, and once it’s safe, to move to socially distanced, in-person hangouts.

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Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture. Originally from Rockville, she lives in Logan Circle.