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AniMeals program feeds pets of homebound seniors

Posted March 26, 2009

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— Pets may be the only companions that many seniors have, and the economy these days has many struggling to care for their furry friends.

To help, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Wake County and Resources for Seniors joined forces this week to offer AniMeals. The community-outreach program provides monthly allotments of pet food to seniors in need.

Charities keep seniors, pets together Charities keep seniors, pets together

"(My pets are) my life. They're everything to me because they were with me ... when I feel bad. They're always there with me, and they keep me company,” said Felicia, a senior in the AniMeals program.

"It's not always that you can find a program that's supporting people in need, especially these days," said LaVonda, another senior in the AniMeals program.

The seniors with whom WRAL News spoke didn't want to provide their last names because they live alone. They said that because money is tight, they have often put their pets before themselves. Some have foregone food, even medication, to feed their pets.

"The last thing we want to know is that people are not taking their medication, but we know from the people out in the field and social workers that, yes, people are making those decisions, unfortunately," said Tobi Brown, with Resources for Seniors.

"It's just like having a child. You would do that same thing for a child," LaVonda said of her pet. "I would rather see my child eat than me. I don't know, I guess that's the love of a mother."

With the help of AniMeals, seniors like LaVonda no longer have to go without food to feed their pets. Dog and/or car food is provided to seniors courtesy of donations from the SPCA's pet pantry.

"It's exciting because I'll be able to have them with me and give them things other than table food," Felicia said.

Through the program, seniors don't have to give up their pets, and that means fewer pets possibly being put down.

"It's almost impossible to even think that I would be without Buster (her dog) now," LaVonda said.

"Your pets do stick by you when no one else is around," Felicia said.

To be eligible for the AniMeals program, participants must be clients of Resources for Seniors, face financial strain and have physical limitations that make it difficult to leave home and have no one else to turn to.

If you would like to help support AniMeals, contact the SPCA at 919-772-2326 or Resources for Seniors at 919-713-1592. In addition to AniMeals, Resources for Seniors has information about other resources for older adults.

To donate bags of dog and cat food, go to the loading dock of the SPCA Pet Adoption Center, 200 Petfinder Lane (off Tryon Rd and U.S. Highway 70), Raleigh, N.C. 27603.

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