SPCA Florida launched the Ani-Meals program in 2009 when the partner agencies Meals on Wheels Polk County and Polk County Elderly Services realized their food delivery clients were sacrificing their supplies in order to keep their cherished fur companions. SPCA Florida began packaging its excess donated pet food and collecting additional donations to help supplement these income-restricted pet owners.
Recently, the animal welfare agency partnered with Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) to expand its Ani-Meals Program. Currently SPCA Florida’s volunteers prepare customized packages for 89 clients and their 170 pets. An additional 14 VISTE clients are now being served and the agencies’ goal is to continue increasing as needed.
“VISTE is grateful to partner with SPCA Florida through the Ani-Meals program. Many of VISTE’s homebound clients consider their pets part of their family,” said Miller. She said some clients find it is difficult to get out of the house to purchase necessities for their pets. Others cannot lift large bags of food or litter, or don’t have the financial means to purchase pet food on a regular basis.
VISTE serves nearly 4,000 clients 70 and older in Lakeland, Bartow, Ft. Meade, and Mulberry. To grow the number of clients and pets served, VISTE needs more drivers.
“We would love to expand this service to additional Hot Meal clients, as well as those who receive monthly commodity deliveries, but we need the community’s support. We are looking for volunteers to take on these routes,” said VISTE Program Director Ashley Miller. Those interested in helping can call (863) 284-0828 extension 3 or email [email protected].
“Through this partnership, seniors in our community can have the peace of mind that their treasured loved ones are receiving the care they need,” said Miller.
“Oftentimes this pet is the reason the person wakes up in the morning. Time and again we’ve heard from family members or the owner themselves how critical the dog or cat is to keeping the senior active,” said SPCA Florida Safety Net Manager Connie Johnson. She handles Ani-Meals and other programs designed specifically to intervene on pet relinquishment, providing people the resources needed to prevent pets from entering the community’s overburden animal shelters. By providing dog training to correct behavior, temporary veterinary assistance or supplemental pet food through Ani-Meals, SPCA Florida strives to improve the lives of pets and the people who love them.
“Animals provide such incredible unconditional love, companionship, and health benefits. SPCA Florida is dedicated to doing everything in its power to keep these pets healthy, happy and in their homes,” said SPCA Florida Executive Director Adam Stanfield.
If you would like to conduct an Ani-Meals donation drive or donate to help cover the veterinary expenses of Ani-Meals clients, please call SPCA Florida Volunteer and Community Involvement Manager Randa Richter (863) 577-4609 or email [email protected].