When the elderly need help performing their daily tasks, many turn to assisted living. But what about the pets that have been a vital part of their lives? At Acorn Manor Assisted Living in the Woodlands, pets are welcome, with no breed or size restrictions.
From Geologist to Rescuer to Care Giver
Priyanka Johri never expected to run an assisted living facility. But then, she also never expected to run an animal sanctuary. None of this was in “the plan.”
Initially, Priyanka studied to be a pilot. “Because everyone said women couldn’t do that,” she laughs.
Then, she studied to be a geologist. But once out of the field and in an office, she became dissatisfied. There had to be something more.
She started flipping houses and became a realtor to fund her rescue facility, Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary. As a retirement home for dogs, the sanctuary focused on older dogs or those with disabilities. She kept getting phone calls from people looking for a safe place for dogs whose owners were going to assisted living.
To help, she started creating a list of pet friendly senior living in Houston to serve as a resource. But when she called around? She found that a lot of “pet friendly” locations were just about marketing, not reality.
“What they said at many locations was, ‘Of course residents can have a pet. As long as they can take care of it,'” says Priyanka. “They’re moving because they can’t take care of themselves, how can they take care of a pet?”
She began to explore what it would take to open a dog friendly assisted living facility.
Pieces Come into Place
Priyanka started by researching licensing requirements, property inspections, and minimum sizes for assisted living. She reached out to her banker to discuss financing.
In a twist of fate, the banker had a client moving from out of state that needed a realtor. The couple wanted a large home to convert to an assisted living facility, something they had previously done in California. From their discussions, Priyanka learned the requirements for Texas small personal care homes, assisted living homes with under 16 residents per home.
Shortly after that, Priyana got a phone call from a lawyer that knew of a multi-bedroom home going into foreclosure. The location? A single story home directly behind Priyana’s real estate office.
And that couple from California? After showing her the ropes, three months later they went back to California without opening their facility.
“Everything came together. Just like it was meant to be. God, whatever you want to call it. Here are all the pieces.”
Of course, it wasn’t all that simple!
Hurricane Harvey delayed their full licensing by almost 2 years, so they weren’t able to fully open until December 2019. Priyana purchased a 2nd neighboring home in early March 2020, just before COVID lockdown.
Currently, Acorn Manor Assisted Living is comprised of 5 dog-friendly assisted living homes, all in close proximity to each other and to hospitals.
There are currently 4 resident’s dogs living at Acorn Manor, plus 2 dogs from the Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary. When a resident passes away, their surviving pet is guaranteed a forever home at the sanctuary.
Says Priyana, “I did not have a clue what I was getting into. The universe has great plans that we don’t know about. But if we follow our heart it can be such an adventure. I am so glad that my life journey has taken a turn and brought me to this path.”