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Veterinarian Technician December 2008 (Vol 29, No 12)

Season of Suppers helps seniors and their hungry pets

    PORTLAND, Ore. — For some seniors, getting around easily is not an option. Often their best friend and only companion is a loving dog or cat. The Season of Suppers campaign, now in its third year, emphasizes the importance of pets to the well-being of homebound seniors. Keeping these companion pets well fed, healthy and part of the family for as long as possible became the motivating factor behind the partnership among Banfield, The Pet Hospital, the Banfield Charitable Trust (BCT) and Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA).

    Phil Shippers, director of the Visiting Nurse Meals On Wheels program of Rochester, N.Y., knows the importance of getting out the message that homebound seniors with pets are a vulnerable population.

    "We know that many seniors in our community are compromising their own nutrition by sharing their meals with their pets," said Shippers, who began a pet feeding program in September through partial funding from a $1,000 grant from the Season of Suppers campaign. "Awareness and action are keys to preventing this from happening. In the short time since we started the program, we have enjoyed great interest and support from not only our meal recipients but the greater community as well. We strongly believe this support will continue to grow and to help us enhance the lives of seniors."

    Making a significant impact for seniors and their pets

    Last year, Banfield's Season of Suppers campaign raised more than $51,000 to help 50 senior meal programs start or augment pet feeding programs across the country.

    "Since the first Season of Suppers campaign, more than 100 Meals On Wheels programs have added pet feeding programs," said Enid Borden, president and CEO of MOWAA. "While pets are the direct beneficiaries of this campaign, homebound seniors are helped as well — and that's MOWAA's primary concern. Before the Season of Suppers campaign, many seniors lacked access to pet food and were sharing their own meals with their pets. Now, both seniors and their pets are getting proper nutrition. It's a win-win situation."

    Banfield's 2008 Season of Suppers campaign takes place throughout Banfield's more than 730 pet hospitals across the country and continues through the end of this year. Supporters can drop off pet food or make monetary donations at any local Banfield hospital.

    Senator leads the charge for seniors and their pets

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a champion of health and human services for senior citizens, will serve as the official campaign spokesperson. Wyden began his professional career as an advocate for seniors, founding a legal clinic for the elderly and codirecting the Oregon Grey Panthers, an organization dedicated to working for social and economic justice.

    "The companionship of pets provides significant benefits for homebound seniors," Wyden said. "Because social interaction outside their home may be limited, their pets become an important part of their lives. Banfield, the BCT and MOWAA are working together to make sure that the time seniors spend with their pets is as long and fulfilling as possible."

    New this year — 2008 Season of Suppers cards

    In addition to donating pet food and monetary contributions at local Banfield hospitals, supporters can participate in the campaign by purchasing full-color, pet-themed note cards. A packet of eight cards will be sold for $10 and all of the proceeds from the note card sales, as well as monetary donations throughout the campaign, will be used to improve the lives of MOWAA recipients and their pets.

    Supporters also may purchase cards by contacting the BCT at 503-922-5801 or emailing info@banfieldcharitabletrust.org

    NEXT: State News: Kansas (December 2008)

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