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Group helps older pets get good homes with older people
Several months ago, I had the opportunity to meet a young woman whose dedication to animals, both human and the pet-variety, is perfectly fitted to the dreams she is turning into a reality. Irene Dondes Conners has devoted countless hours of her time creating The Project for Pets Helping People, Inc. This nonprofit organization is devoted primarily to helping senior citizens through programs using companion animals. As an all volunteer organization, The Project clearly relies on charitable donations, and this is why when Irene called me up a few weeks ago she was particularly exciting about the news she had to convey. The United Way has just entered The Project for Pets Helping People into their Donor Choice Program. So it is time for pet lovers throughout the Delaware Valley to spread the word of how their companies, friends and associates can help pets and senior citizens in the area. There are a number of programs that this organization has established. "Seniors for Seniors" will match people over 60 with older (over 2 years old), calmer, homeless pets from local shelters and breed rescue clubs. Once a match has been made, staff members will provide a variety of support services including a starter kit of pet supplies, discounted veterinary services, assistance with hygiene (bathing/grooming), dog training, care and boarding of pet if senior owner is temporarily incapacitated, emergency delivery of pet food, and transportation to grooming/veterinary appointments. Regularly scheduled follow-up phone calls and home visits are conducted as well. Pets Helping People also has a "Pet Visitation Program" which brings suitable pets to nursing homes and other institutions. This organization also participates in the "Pet Savers Registry," a database which helps locate lost pets, and the Cycle/Kennel Ration Pet Food Program which turns pet food labels into cash donations for area shelters (encourage your kids to start collecting labels from these products). All of this has grown out of Mrs. Conner's love for and appreciation of animals. When she adopted "Lady," an 8 year old poodle mix from an area shelter, she realized that most older, homeless animals are not so fortunate. The fact is that most of these animals are euthanized simply because there are not enough homes to place older pets. As it turned out, Lady was especially fond of senior citizens (having lived with one most of her life). And as numerous studies have indicated, pet ownership has marked benefits on livelihood. It increases people's propensity to exercise. It reduces stress and it lowers blood pressure. For Irene it was clear to put 1 and 1 together. These pets need homes, and these people benefit by having pets. The sole ingredient left for it to work is community support. Donations through the United Way of Delaware can be made by filling in code "#9245 for Project for Pets Helping People, Inc." For the United Way of S.E. Pennsylvania, write "Project for Pets Helping People, 311 Benham Ct., Newark, DE 19711." Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals and groups who enjoy working with companion animals and the elderly, or who would like to serve on organizational committees. To make a private donation, volunteer, or for more info, contact Irene Dondes Conners at 302-456-1837. The Wilmington Kennel Club's Eye Screening Clinic will be held Sunday, Nov. 19th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. by Dr. Lionel Rubin at Concord Pet Food and Supplies in the Fox Run Shopping Plaza (Route 40 & 72) in Bear, DE. In the interest of breeding better dogs genetically, all breeding stock should be examined and cleared annually by a Veterinarian Ophthalmologist to continue in a breeding program. To register your dog(s), contact Dolores Allsworth @ 410-392-6604.