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Animatronic Pets Providing Sense Of Companionship To Senior Community Residents

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Twin Cities retirement community has something new to give the people who live there a sense of companionship without the responsibility.

Four animatronic pets now call Tradition Independent and Assisted Living in Brooklyn Park home. The two cats and two dogs were a gift from the city of Brooklyn Park, which used CARES Act money to buy them for several senior communities.

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Sabrina, one of the robotic cats, has been by Karen Raum's side for nearly two months now. They're quite fond of each other.

"Whenever I turn on a light, she meows," Raum said. "[Also] if I walk by her and of course, talking to her, touching her."

What Sabrina's company has meant to Raum can't be overstated.

Animatronic Pets Robot Pets at Nursing Homes
Karen Raum with Sabrina (credit: CBS)

"I lost my husband in March and my cat in June, and so it's nice to have something in your apartment that you can interact with," she said. "I know she's not real, of course, but I still talk to her and pet her."

Raum loves not having to deal with kitty litter either. Christine McCutchan, Tradition's activity director, says the pets were a hit from the start, and they're looking at possibly getting more.

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"The [woman] that has the dog, she watches TV with the dog," McCutchan said. "She said every now and then the dog will bark or look at her. She says it feels like there's somebody else in the room with her so she's not as lonely."

The pets run on batteries, and you can find one online for as little as $100.

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