Since 2008, many people have lost the ability to care for their animals, especially senior citizens as well as the homeless, veterans, during emergencies and for those involved in domestic violence. Back in 2004, an employee from Clackamas County took on a dog food pantry in a small way starting AniMeals and feeding about 6,000 to 7,000 animals per year. By 2008, they were providing food for animals in shelters.
But over the last five years the program has grown thanks to Nancy Martin who got involved shortly after she retired and moved to Oregon. Through FIDO or Friends Involved in Dog Outreach and the donations it receives, Martin and several other volunteers are able to provide AniMeals through Meals on Wheels as well as a pet food bank, a veteran's program and emergency response for more than 197,200 animals a year.
FIDO and AniMeals is one of only a few in the United States and the only one serving an entire county. Others include one in Washington State, Portland, Atlanta, Denver and one in San Francisco offers AniMeals.
"The need is great," said Martin, "we want to avoid putting animals in shelters," she says. It's also a Social Services program allowing seniors to keep their pets providing them an animal to lower their blood pressure as well as putting another body into a single person's home.
Too often when seniors are unable to feed their pets, they have to give them to shelters because they are unable to take care of them, added Martin. Enter FIDO, which provides meals and food for those who can't afford and can't get out enough to take care of them.
When a senior signs up for Meals on Wheels, they can sign up for FIDO. This allows them to get AniMeals every other week in two and five pound bags. They even offer grain free food and kitty litter. The food is delivered to 14 Clackamas County senior centers, including those in Canby and Molalla. From there folks can pick it up or it is delivered every other week by vetted drivers. And, no one has to pay.
The food bank is open on the third Saturday of the month for those who can prove they have a need through Social Services or another service agency. Typically the food bank typically serves 110 families per month, although last month the total was 119.
FIDO also responds to emergencies. Last year they sent supplies to shelters for animals saved from the horrendous fires in Oregon and California. This November, Martin and her 15 volunteers are readying shipments to the Northern and Southern California fires.
Over a recent weekend, the group spent time at Veterans Stand Down, a services fair that provides care for the veterans—haircuts, dental visits and so forth—providing for their pets and former services dogs.
FIDO has six people on its board. Martin is president, Jeremy Johnson is vice president, Sharon Swan is treasure and Rosa Balzer is Secretary. Mariann Buell and Ron Smith are board members. There are 18 various supporters including clubs, nonprofits and organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Homeless Veterans program.
Donations can help keep FIDO and AniMeals helping pets. There are a couple of ways; one is through Facebook and can be found at Fido Pet Food Bank. Another is located at www.FIDOAniMeals.org. Both have a donate button.
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