Meals on Wheels of Tippecanoe County will start feeding humans and animals alike at the start of the new year.
Thanks to a $2,500 grant from Banfield Charitable Trust, the organization will deliver "AniMeals" to those having trouble feeding their pets. So far, about a dozen people have signed up for the free program.
"Mostly cats, some dogs and even some birds," Jennifer Shook, Meals on Wheels executive director, said about the animals registered.
Those who receive food from Meals on Wheels are eligible to participate in the AniMeals program.
The program has received communitywide support. Shook said the organization intended to purchase cat and dog food, as well as cat litter, and deliver the products as needed, but VCA Lafayette Animal Hospital offered to partner on the project. The clinic will purchase pet food through its contacts, so clients can receive higher quality food.
The clinic also will do home vet visits with pets beginning next week.
Dawn Berry, VCA practice manager, said veterinarians will serve as nutritional consultants, recommending the best diet for each animal and checking to see if pets have any medical needs owners are unable to meet on their own.
"Some of our doctors would be happy to donate some services at low or no cost," she told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/1rxdpk3 ). "We'll do what we can to make it affordable for them."
Natalie's Second Chance shelter collected for the cause, too. Throughout December, the shelter raised donations of food, litter, toys and blankets.
While Meals on Wheels hopes to take some of the burden off clients who may not be able to afford pet food, Shook said there is more reason behind the additional assistance.
"A majority of our clients are seniors or someone with a physical or mental health challenge, so the unconditional love that a little creature can give is very beneficial," she said. "We are really excited to offer help to keep them fed."