Senior Centers Host Pet-Care Drive to Raise Money for Needed Supplies

Senior Centers Host Pet-Care Drive to Raise Money for Needed Supplies

This is just one of the many pets needing help through the Care for Critters program. Courtesy photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Despite all of the COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions in place, the Sweetwater County Care For Critters Program is still taking place, but with some adjustments, of course.

“Due to COVID-19, we will be hosting our Care for Critters pet-care drive a little differently this year,” Irish Kreis, Golden Hour Senior Center activities and marketing coordinator, said.

The Care For Critters AARP program helps senior citizens pay for food, vaccines and other items for their pets through donations. In years past, both the GHSC and the Young at Heart Senior Center have asked residents for donations, such as pet food, toys, beds, kitty litter, treats and monetary donations to help pay for vaccines or medications.

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“Of course we can’t do that now because we are closed,” Young at Heart marketing and events coordinator Laura Horan said.

However, both centers will be asking for monetary donations instead, Kreis said. Those who would like to donate can simply mail their donation to either center. The Young at Heart Center is also collecting donations through a QR code on their Facebook page.

Kreis said the reason they decided to only ask for monetary donations this year is because they didn’t want people to feel like they had to go to stores and pick up donations like they normally would.

“We want people really just stay home,” she said.

While each center’s program varies slightly, the goal is the same: to ensure senior citizens who need help taking care of their pets receive it. When seniors fill out the program’s application, they write down what they their pet needs most. This varies from person to person. Some seniors request cat or dog food, while others need help paying for their pet’s vaccinations or medications.

“We’ve always have run this program to help our seniors because we know their pets are one of their greatest companions in this time in their life,” Kreis said. “We would hate for someone to have to chose between feeding their pet versus feeding themselves or getting their pet their vaccinations versus filling a prescription for themselves.”

Horan said the Young at Heart program relies on its home health nurses and home delivered meal representatives to take applications to those who they know are in need of extra help. Once the application is completed and returned, the center starts asking for donations. Applications should be turned in by April 30 for the Young at Heart’s program.

Chuck and Dee Tucker with their dog, Tessa. Courtesy photo

The GHSC program’s application process has already concluded and the center received more than 40 applications. Kreis said the center is already busy collecting monetary donations. After looking through the applications and the requests on them, Kreis said she will need about $1,500 to cover veterinarian bills and $1,500 for supplies.

Kreis said she knows that is a big goal, but she’s hoping the community can answer it and help these senior citizens out.

Once they receive all of the monetary donations, Kreis and Horan will contact local veterinarians to make sure bills are paid for and then pick up all of the supplies at local stores or order harder-to-find orders online.

“Especially in a time like we are facing right now, a lot of people are choosing what they need to spend their money on.” Kreis said. “A lot of senior citizens who live alone have a pet. And that pet is really one of the most important things to them. It’s their sense of comfort, their sense of home, their sense of belonging for them to have this pet with them.”

Even though the program is different this year, both Kreis and Horan are hoping it’s as successful as it has been in the past.

“We want to make sure everyone is taken care of,” Horan said.