YAH asking for volunteers for Care for Critters Program

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Tiffany Asher, [email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING —  Young at Heart is asking for help from our gracious community. Care for Critters is a donation-based program that helps homebound seniors pay for their pet vaccinations, veterinary care, pet food, and other needs that can’t always be met for the elderly.

Kandi Lewis, Young at Heart Facility Secretary and Activities Coordinator, said, “Young at Heart has participated since 2015. Care for Critters has been happening at Young at Heart since 2017. This event used to be partly sponsored by AARP however, they are no longer able to sponsor due to budget constraints. This is why we are asking the local community to help.” Lewis mentioned that the need for vet fees alone this year is about $1,100. They still need pet food, supplies, etc., for which she is estimating another $700. “In the past, we have helped hundreds of seniors. This year, we had 17 applications turned in, and so far, only 2 tags have been picked up. Many seniors who cannot afford veterinary care for their pets and will forgo their own needs in order to provide for their pets. It is important for seniors in isolation to have the companionship that their pets provide,” Lewis explained.

In a press release, “Care for Critters was originated by AARP’s Foundation program. The goal is to prevent isolation and shine a light on the importance of pets to home-bound community members and senior citizens alike. Staying connected to the people and things that matter to us is fundamental to our physical and mental well-being. We need social connections to thrive – no matter our age. However, recent research shows that the negative health consequences of chronic isolation and loneliness, while harmful at any age, are especially so for older adults. Many seniors will forgo their own needs to provide for their pets. The Care for Critters project helps seniors by paying for their pet’s food and vaccines. The Young at Heart is calling once again on our wonderful community for help.”

According to AARP, Care for Critters impacts social isolation. “The Care for Critters program seeks to battle social isolation, which, according to research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, may be a greater public health hazard than obesity.” Many seniors live alone, so their pet is their family. This program helps seniors take care of their pets and improves mental health.

The community can pick up a tag at Petco. This lets them either shop for the items themselves to donate or make a monetary donation for vet fees. “Petco donations for veterinary fees must be cash only. A monetary donation can also be made at Young at Heart, and we can do the shopping if needed. Young at Heart can also accept donations by cash, credit card, or PayPal,” Lewis stated. If you are interested in participating and helping a senior’s pet in need, visit Petco at 2441 Foothill Blvd. Suite #1 in Rock Springs to pick up a tag today.