Meals on Wheels America has announced it has distributed $509,000 in grants to more than 60 local Meals on Wheels programs in 2022 to support expanded access to veterinary care for the pets of senior clients.
The funds distributed through the Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program – powered by PetSmart Charities– will be used to support programs’ abilities to provide older adults’ animal companions with improved and more accessible preventative, sick and emergency care. Pets have been shown to serve as a source of valuable social connection for many older adults, positively impacting their physical and mental health and decreasing feelings of loneliness. While veterinary care is particularly essential to support pets’ health and longevity, it can often present challenges for older adults with limited mobility or financial constraints to manage on their own.
A 2021 study released by Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities identified the primary needs of homebound seniors and their pets and found that nearly one in two clients reported being unable to access preventative veterinary care in the past two years. Eighty-six percent of the respondents said that cost was the biggest barrier to receiving such veterinary care, with transportation cited as a secondary barrier. Such findings prompted the two organizations to design grants that could help address these challenges and make vet care more accessible.
“We know that the human-animal bond is powerful for keeping older adults happier and healthier and we want to do all we can to remove hurdles that might get in the way of seniors and their pets aging at home together,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Through the continued support from our trusted partner, PetSmart Charities, we’re able to help expand access to vital veterinary care for Meals on Wheels clients and ensure that older adults can more easily secure the exams, vaccinations, dental care and other critical services their animal companions need.”
“Veterinary Care access is a challenge for more than 25 percent of pet households in the United States, disproportionately impacting vulnerable groups like seniors who rely on their pets the most,” said Aimee Gilbreath, President of PetSmart Charities. “Through the incredible partnership with Meals on Wheels America, we are able to ensure that thousands of seniors can continue living healthy, happy lives with their furry companions.”
In addition to the grants designed to improve and expand access to veterinary care, the Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program will also distribute an additional $591,000 across two other grant types for a total of $1,100,000 to be awarded by the end of 2022. Each of these grant opportunities is designed to bolster the development, growth and sustainability of local programs’ pet assistance services in underserved areas and/or increase scalability and expand access to care.