Studies have shown pet ownership reduces loneliness and depression and lowers blood pressure and stress. That’s especially pronounced when the pet owner is a senior living by him or herself.
But sometimes, those seniors can no longer afford to keep their pets. In San Diego, that’s where the Humane Society steps in with its PAWS In-Home Service.
“The San Diego Humane Society knows the best thing we can do for animals in our community is help people care for and keep their pets so they aren’t forced to relinquish their animals to a shelter,” said San Diego Humane Society Grants Officer Katie Woolsey. “Heartbroken, tearful pet owners surrendering their animal companions simply because they don’t have the resources to care for them is a common scene in our facilities.”
PAWS was founded in 1993 when a volunteer started helping friends who were living with HIV and AIDS. He began hand-delivering food for their pets so the people could keep their beloved companions at a time when they needed love and comfort. Since its founding, PAWS has expanded to serve thousands each year. PAWS and the San Diego Humane Society merged in September 2014 to become the largest safety net service for people and animals in San Diego.
The Sundt Foundation grant will help provide in-home pet food delivery and services to low-income seniors and those who are homebound, disabled or chronically ill.
“The generous gift made it possible for PAWS San Diego to offer vital resources and services that kept these deserving pet families together in the face of hardship,” Katie said. “This includes free pet food; vital pet care supplies such as flea medication, cat litter and toys; and dog walking and transportation services. Veterinary vouchers are also provided to assist with unforeseen medical expenses.”
One PAWS client, Nancy, is able to enjoy her independence and the life she loves because of her cat, Charlie. After Nancy fell and suffered injuries that kept her in the hospital for a month, she began to consider moving into an assisted-living facility. Friends suggested that she instead adopt a cat to give her the companionship she needed. Since Charlie has come into her life, Nancy’s perspective has turned around and she is relishing her regained independence. Nancy receives monthly in-home deliveries of food and litter for Charlie, as well as funding for veterinary care.
“By supporting the needs of our clients’ pets, we ensure that our human clients have a sense of purpose and a stable source of love in their lives, which in turn enables them to live independently longer and age with dignity,” Katie said.
This is part of a series of blogs about the positive impacts made by the Sundt Foundation.