For years, the nonprofit FIDO has been providing free pet meals for senior residents in Canby, but as of late, the organization will get some much-needed support from a group of realtors, which may help to expand services.
FIDO stands for "Friends Involved in Dog Outreach," and is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization based in Oregon City. The goal is to help people and their pet companions stay together. Pet food can be cost prohibitive for some, so FIDO steps in to provide the free meals and prevent animals from being separated from their owners.
The organization boasts several programs including AniMeals, a Pet Food Bank and Pet Needs Pantry, a veterans program and a new emergency response program to provide pet food and shelter during natural disasters.
Under the AniMeals program, FIDO President Nancy Martin has for many years packed up and delivered pet food and cat litter to the Canby Adult Center for seniors. That is, until she met realtors Donna Ellison, Hannah Ellison, Stefanie Tewalt, Joyce Coffman, Liz Balderston and Mercedes Kauhola of Ellison Team Homes. Members of the group of Canby realtors encountered Martin at a dog show, and the rest is history.
Now, the realtors will pack the food and litter twice a month, deliver it to the Canby Adult Center, manage the donation box at Canby's Nature's Pet store and even contribute financially to FIDO.
Donna said the group picked FIDO because the organization meets local needs, but also because its impact extends far beyond Canby.
"What we liked about is that animals kind of touch everybody," Donna said. "Even if you don't have one, it's hard to find somebody that doesn't think an animal is cute or want to care about an animal. There's so many political things, there's so many volatile things out there. We've experienced that in our local town where people choose to stand on things that are controversial. We just want to love on pets."
She added, "Nancy and this program are outstanding, and we love that we are touching all of these lives. I am a huge fan because we all believe that every person should have an animal if they want one."
For Tewalt, the program reminded her of the time she saw first-hand how valuable a pet can be to a person. Tewalt used to volunteer for a program that provided groceries for seniors at a low-income housing facility, the Westwind, in Portland.
"We went down to the Westwind and we found that man who was eating cat food because he was only buying his cat food and not food for himself because he wanted to make sure he was feeding his animal," Tewalt said. "So, people will put their pets in front of their own needs."
According to Martin, it's true that people will put their pets' needs above their own.
"The research for Meals on Wheels of America…is that as much as 70 percent of those seniors will get a home-delivered meal either to solely feed to their pet or to share with the pet," Martin said, "because they simply can't afford it. You know, that's just a gut-wrencher."
But with the help of FIDO, in coordination with the staff at the Canby Adult Center and now Ellison Team Homes, seniors don't have to worry about food for their pets.
Once the realtors deliver the goods to the adult center, the staff there takes over to make sure seniors who need it get their pet food. Some seniors are able to pick it up and others will have it delivered via Meals on Wheels volunteers, according to Adult Center Director Kathy Robinson. In those cases, Martin said, the pet food delivery provides an additional well-check for the individual since the "AniMeals on Wheels" are delivered separately from the Meals on Wheels.
Now that Martin has the realtors' support, she's thinking of ways to expand the services FIDO provides in Canby. This may include a pet appreciation day, a dog grooming event, potentially bussing people to Oregon City to visit the Pet Needs Pantry and more.
"This is the first time we've ever had a local group that has some ability to financially support us, that wants to," Martin said. "So, I think we can do as much as possible [in Canby]. But the senior center there, of course we all love the seniors, that's gonna be the focus."
Martin hopes to use the realtor partnership in Canby as a model for adult centers in other cities.
For more information on FIDO, or to donate, visit fidoanimeals.org. For more information on Ellison Team Homes, visit ellisonteamhomes.com.
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