Ask most people if they have heard of the Meals on Wheels of Denton County program and chances are they will say yes. But inquire about a similar initiative for those clients’ pets and the response likely will be different.
Senior Paws for Pets delivers donated cat and dog food the third Saturday of each month to Meals on Wheels clients. It’s like Meals on Wheels for pets who receive their own food rather than having their owners share some of theirs because of lack of money.
Both Meals on Wheels and Senior Paws for Pets fall under the guidance of Span, Inc.
“The Senior Paws for Pets program is a labor of love that we like to do for our clients,” said Michelle McMahon, Span’s executive director since 2018. “It’s not a funded program. It’s all done through donations and volunteers.
“We do it to support our Meals on Wheels clients in a special way. It’s a compliment to our clients to help combat loneliness and make sure their pets are taken care of. And of course, we’re all animal lovers.”
Jill Waite coordinates the dozen or so volunteers who serve 54 clients with about 100 pets. Their determination has meant not missing even one month during the pandemic.
Kristine Herrera, Span’s senior nutrition program manager, said she and the staff often learn clients have pets during home visits.
“Most of our seniors are homebound and chair bound and live by themselves. So a dog or a cat is companionship and we’ve seen during Covid the importance of that companionship,”
McMahon and Herrera are seeking ways to secure additional funding to be able to expand Senior Paws for Pets beyond Meals on Wheels clients and to other animals with services besides food.