Seniors can now participate in a pet wellness program offered by Meals on Wheels.
Delivering Meals on Wheels San Diego is teaming with the Helen Woodward Animal Center to provide seniors receiving meals with free mobile veterinary services.
This is the start of a new collaboration with Helen Woodward. They provide veterinary services to our customers who order Animeals from us. And these are services that would be incredibly difficult for these elders on a fixed budget to afford, said Brent Wakefield, the organization's CEO.
Meals for seniors' dogs, known as Animeals, were introduced a few years ago as part of Meals on Wheels deliveries.
On Friday, Fallbrook homeowner William Ralston took his dog Kimo to the Helen Woodward Animal mobile unit in San Marcos for a free wellness visit.
We're on a fixed salary, which gives us a little more flexibility in terms of food and other necessities, he explained. They're kind enough to provide wet or dry food for him (Kimo). They're also taking care of my cat's food.
Ralston lives alone with his pet and Kimo. Meals on Wheels are delivered to each of them.
During the pandemic, many of the seniors served by Meals on Wheels experienced cognitive deterioration, but those who lived with a pet fared far better, according to Wakefield.
These creatures are lifelines. So being able to give this service and keep their furry friends well and happy is actually one of the best things we can do for their health as well," he explained.
Low-income Meals on Wheels users who receive Animeals will be eligible for the veterinarian care.
On various days, the mobile unit will be stationed throughout San Diego County enabling seniors to bring their dogs.
It will also pay visits to seniors who are housebound and have pets.