One-in-four seniors live alone, often with a pet as their only source of comfort. With nearly 7 million seniors living at or below the poverty line, many are finding it increasingly difficult to support themselves – let alone a pet. Meals on Wheels America, the leading organization dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger, says thousands of their pet-owning clients will forgo their own resources to ensure their pets are fed before even taking a bite of a delivered meal themselves.
To help address these issues, PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, has committed $3 million to Meals on Wheels America to fund a three-year partnership that will support a national pet food pantry and veterinary care program to provide home-delivered meals and veterinary care to pets of home-bound seniors. Funds also will support research to help both organizations better understand the needs of Meals on Wheels clients and their pets. The partnership will be the first of its kind supported on a nationwide scale and is the largest gift from PetSmart Charities in its 25-year history.
“As an organization dedicated to supporting pets and the people who love them, PetSmart Charities is proud to partner with Meals on Wheels America to help keep seniors and their pets living healthier lives together,” said Deborah Turcott, acting president of PetSmart Charities. “We know there is a large population of seniors struggling to make ends meet and facing the difficult choice of going hungry or surrendering their beloved pet. This partnership will help ensure they won’t have to make that choice.”
“PetSmart Charities’ unprecedented generosity will support our ongoing efforts to deliver so much more than just a meal to our nation’s most vulnerable older adults,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “We know that seniors with pets are less likely to exhibit depression, report feelings of loneliness and experience illness, and our partnership will enable more of these invaluable, mutually-supportive relationships to be sustained in communities across America for years to come.”
Funding from the PetSmart Charities grant will also allow local Meals on Wheels programs to expand existing pet programs and improve access to pet care to include preventive medical care, temporary pet boarding, dog walking and grooming.
For more information on Meals on Wheels America, please visit www.MealsOnWheelsAmerica.org. For more information on PetSmart Charities and how grants are making an impact across North America, visit www.PetSmartCharities.org.