MARIETTA - Area seniors who participate in Washington-Morgan Community Action's Meals on Wheels program are receiving some help with feeding their pets, too.
Marietta resident Lou Urschel, 85, counts his 6-year-old chihuahua, Trixie, among his best friends.
"Don't know what I'd do without her. She's the best-mannered dog I've ever seen," he said Sunday as Trixie reclined quietly on a cushion in Urschel's living room.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Lou Urschel and his chihuahua, Trixie, get meals from Washington-Morgan Community Action’s Meals on Wheels program. A grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust has allowed Community Action to help seniors purchase some food for their pets.
He's had the dog for about a year now, and she's the third chihuahua Urschel has owned.
"I got her from a lady in Virginia who wanted to give her away because she was afraid some kids in the neighborhood would abuse the dog," he said. "I don't know why anyone would want to hurt Trixie."
Urschel said one day last year he received some dog food along with his weekly Meals on Wheels delivery.
Washington-Morgan Community Action's Meals on Wheels helps provide pet food for seniors who participate in the program.
Funding for the pet food comes through a $1,000 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust.
The pet food program, now in its second year, has assisted 70 local seniors with food for a total 66 cats and 53 dogs.
"They delivered my meal and brought several cans of dog food, too," he said. "Trixie eats a three- to four-ounce can of food every day. And she does like her cheese. Every night around 9:30 she paws at the refrigerator for some cheese."
Urschel said his monthly Social Security check doesn't go too far, so any help with expenses, including dog food, is greatly appreciated.
The dog food comes courtesy of a grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, a non-profit organization with a mission that includes keeping pets and their people together by assisting the homebound with pet food through local Meals on Wheels programs.
"We received a $1,000 grant last year through the Banfield Charitable Trust to help provide pet food for the seniors in our Meals on Wheels program," said Carrie McNamee, director of senior and community services at Washington-Morgan Community Action.
She said the agency also applied for and has been awarded another $1,000 grant from the charitable trust this year.
"All of that money will go to purchase pet food," McNamee said. "Last year we helped 70 seniors feed their pets, including 66 cats and 53 dogs. And we expect to help about the same number of our Meals on Wheels clients this year."
The pet food funding is only available to qualified seniors who are enrolled in the local Meals on Wheels program.
"We did a recent survey that showed 80 percent of our Meals on Wheels participants had one or more pets in their homes," McNamee said.
The grant money is used to generate a purchase order and the pet food is bought at Kmart in Marietta. She said the store has agreed to participate in the program.
"When we divide it up, it's not a lot of money-about $15 for each of the seniors, but at least it's something to help them feed their pets," McNamee said.
Cathy Rees, case manager for senior nutrition at Community Action, said the program helps stretch limited dollars for seniors with fixed incomes.
"Sometimes it comes down to a decision whether to spend money on themselves, pet food, or on meds," she said. "When we first started the program I was amazed at how many of our Meals on Wheels participants had pets."
Rees said pets often provide a form of therapy and companionship for the seniors who often live alone.
"If they're living by themselves, having a pet around the home is important," she said. "But that also means expenses for pet food and veterinary care. And we don't want these seniors having to split meals with their pets."