By JOSEPH HAMRICK
For many elderly people who live below the poverty level, the closest companionship they have is their furry four-legged friend.
Studies have shown that having a pet to look after and feed increases an elderly persons mental, emotional and physical well-being.
The staff at Turtle Creek Veterinary Medical Center want those elderly people to not worry about not having the money to feed their pets.
For the past two years the center has raised more than $2,000 through various promotions to purchase dog and cat food for the Hunt County Shared Ministries (FISH) Food Pantry.
Lauri Rocky, business manager at Turtle Creek, said she wanted to find a way for the elderly to keep their pets.
“Many of these people are elderly and are unable to make their budgets stretch to feed their beloved companions,” she said. “Having a pet not only combats loneliness, but also gives the elderly a ‘job’ to do every day, taking care of their pets, thereby reducing the risk for depression,” she said.
With more time to give to their pets, elderly people are able to build a stronger bond between the two.
“For the pet, elderly people generally have more time to devote to their beloved pets, thus promoting an unconditional loving bond that is reciprocal,” she said. “Hence, usually a happy, healthy situation for both pet and owner.”
Being confined in a home can increase loneliness and depression in the elderly.
Rocky said by having a pet the owner has more confidence to be social in their community.
“For the elderly who live alone, having a pet has also been shown to increase physical activity, reduce blood pressure, increase social interactions with others, and learn more about their pets, thereby keeping themselves mentally stimulated,” she said.
Rocky said working at the center has given her the ability to understand the need in the community and an opportunity to help.
“As animal lovers, we understand the importance and strength of the human animal bond,” she said. “Our annual fund-raiser is just a small way that we as a community can give back to others, and to help promote the integrity of this bond by helping others provide for their beloved companions.”
The clinic will be hosting its Third Annual Jingle Bowls campaign to benefit FISH again this winter.