Creating a match between homeless pets and local senior citizens is the focus of a program involving the Humane Society of Utah and a national pet food company.

This is the second year the local Humane Society has participated in Ralston Purina Co.'s Pets for People Program.Last year, the program brought together some 15,000 senior citizens and pets nationally. Local Humane Society officials say the effort not only brings a bit of joy to the local participants, it also helps reduce the number of animals in the society's shelter.

The program helps qualifying senior citizens to adopt a dog or cat free from the local shelters. The program pays the cost of adoption fees, initial veterinary care including inoculations and spaying or neutering, and provides the new owner with a starter kit including a leash, collar, food and water bowls, and a starter supply of Purina pet food products.

"The program was successful last year, both in terms of helping seniors experience the love of a pet and in reducing the number of pets in our shelter," said Gene Baierschmidt, Humane Society of Utah director.

For more information, contact the Humane Society of Utah at 968-3548.