By SALLY KING, Valley Community Newspapers writer
Imagine an older woman in her wheel chair; leaving her Natomas home in the morning with her little dachshund bundled up on her lap, switching between light rail and the bus for three hours to reach her destination point.
The woman was bringing her dog to the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (SPCA) located at 6201 Florin Perkins Road, where a program called “Senior Services” provides free pet vaccinations to senior citizens age 60 and over the first Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This woman arrived late and was incredibly grateful and gracious to us when we told her we would vaccinate her dog that day,” SPCA Senior Services Coordinator Shari Lowen said. “Our goal is keeping seniors and their pets together.”
Pet, senior needs met
For many seniors, their life is their pet.
“No one can argue the benefits of keeping seniors and their pets together,” Lowen said. “The senior program provides free vaccinations, nail trims, and pet adoptions.”
The money saved on free pet vaccinations provide many seniors money needed for pet food.
Lynn Humphries, ‘A Sure Solution’ consultant, thinks the SPCA Senior program is wonderful.
“Three years ago I received a call from a gentleman who had a sick dog and no money. At that time the SPCA didn’t have a senior program, so I split the cost of the veterinarian fees with a friend,” Humphries said. “The man started crying when he found out his dog was going to be OK.”
Meals on Wheels connection
Humphries said the folks who volunteer with “Meals on Wheels” keep their eyes open for seniors who might need assistance with a pet.
Lori Olshaskie, Meals on Wheels’ Social Services supervisor, said she has known seniors on fixed incomes who would rather see their pet eat than themselves.
“The level of love and commitment to their pets is amazing,” Olshaskie said. “Especially when a person lives alone, having a pet makes a huge difference in that persons life.”
Meals on Wheels is grateful for pet food donations and is willing to pick them up.
The SPCA holds an annual golf tournament to raise money for the Senior Service program. It will take place Monday, May 9 at the Del Paso Country Club, presented by Hank Fisher.
In addition to free vaccinations, the Senior Service program provides discounted dog training, free telephone assistance with dog and cat behavior issues and discounted private animal behavior consultations. They also provide quarterly estate planning seminars that include information about options for pets in the event the owner is no longer here to care for them.
Lowen said the SPCA is working on a program where volunteers go to the senior’s home and provide whatever services his or her pet might need, such as transportation to the veterinarian because many seniors no longer drive. The SPCA is trying to get volunteers together to walk dogs for folks who are immobile or not able to walk far.
To learn more, call the Sacramento SPCA at (916) 383-7387 or visit www.sspca.org.