by Elisa Black
While the rest of the world is falling apart around us, I decided to find more good news for cat lovers! Today I want to talk about a plan being used in several areas of the United States involving the elderly and their pets. Some organizations simply supply food to people having a hard time providing food for their pets. I spread this good news in the hope that others can implement a similar plan where they live.
I realize my readers from other countries may never have heard of Meals on Wheels. This is a 41 year old United States organization that is based on “neighbor helping neighbor” to combat hunger. Most of their clients are the elderly home bound who are unable financially or physically to prepare their meals. Meals on Wheels is made up of volunteers who prepare and deliver meals daily. This is the only human contact many elderly living alone in the United States have each day. Delivery volunteers are also trained in how to respond if the resident doesn’t come to the door when they arrive. Many volunteers have literally saved lives by alerting EMS and family when no one answers.
Many elderly live alone and a pet is the only companionship they have. Studies have shown how pets improve the quality of life for everyone. I won’t go into that because everyone knows it already. I WILL go into what many of the elderly are facing today. Being financially unable to feed their pets.
Which puts the pet in danger of being placed in a shelter or given away. Either option is heartbreaking to the owner.
Meals on Wheels has started a program in many areas of the country. Now along with the food delivered for those who are on the program, they also deliver pet food. While each reference I’ve found has a different method of doing it, they all have one common goal. Keep the cat with the owner and provide food and cat litter free of charge. Both money and food donations are needed to keep this successful program going.
I don’t mean to single out any particular program, but would like to use Beaverton Loaves and Fishes located in Oregon as an example. They are a Meals on Wheels program who has teamed with the Sherwood Cat Adoption Team. My hero for this story (remember I always have a hero or a villain) is director Vicki Adams. She sent out a survey in her area to find out how great a need there was for pet food assistance. This was in September of 2009. To date over 750 pounds of donated food has been delivered.
This service has eased the burden of the elderly on how to feed their four legged companions. Before this program was put in place, many had to share their own meals with their pet. Offering pet food ensures the elderly can eat their entire meal knowing their best friend also has food.
I also have another hero for this article. Kathy Covey is the manager of the Cat Adoption Team’s food bank. It’s the first organized food bank in the Portland, Oregon area and has come a long way since it began in June 2008. The food bank helps not only the elderly but also struggling pet owners in the area. Their mission is simple. Keep the pet in the home and out of the shelter.
Another organization with pet welfare in mind is Meals Fur Pets. It was formed in 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia and has the same goal. Feed hungry pets. They are a totally non-profit group. Their employees are strictly volunteers and they receive no money from the government to fund their program. Meals Fur Pets has a website at .
They operate in the same manner as the Cat Adoption Team food bank. They work thru various missions, food banks and charity organizations to see that food is distributed to people financially unable to feed their pets. A $10 donation will feed a pet for a month.
Kudos to Meals on Wheels, Cat Adoption Team, Loaves and Fishes and Meals Fur Pets. I’m sure there are many more similar groups I’ve overlooked and I apologize. My goal is to show how different projects to help out pets have been put into place.
Now I want to throw in my personal opinion. I LOVE to do that.
A lot of people may say that we should forget the pets and put the people first. They don’t realize that a companion animal is also the best friend (or child) to many who live alone. The same holds true to families who have fell on hard times. The answer is not to take the animal to the shelter. I could never do that to any of my fur babies. I’d go without first so they would be fed. I’m sure countless others feel the same way I feel. Removing the animal because times are tough is simply not an option.
I urge my readers to check with their local Meals on Wheels or similar food programs to see if they have a pet food plan in place. Also check with local food banks. These are both good places to start. I’m sure many haven’t considered adding pet care as a service. Do whatever it takes to put the ideas I’ve listed here into place where you live. The elderly, the pets and the animal shelters will all benefit because fewer animals will be brought in and labeled “Can’t Keep.”
And a lot fewer hearts will be broken.