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Ani-Meals Brings Meals on Wheels to Furry Family Members

By DWIGHT HOBBES 

In the best of times folk who have trouble making ends meet have enough of a challenge feeding themselves, much less Fido and Kitty. These are far from the best of times. Accordingly, Ani-Meals is more than ever a pet owner”™s godsend, spun-off from Meals on Wheels through a Meals On Wheels America grant to PetSmart Charities in 2015. Soon as word got out about the supply, demand grew. Melanie La Pointe, Ani-Meals director at the Community Emergency Service location, recalls, “It exploded pretty fast. At first, we had about ten animals, then, it went up to about 70.” That number is now 163 pets belonging to 90 clients of MOW. 

For confirmed animal lover La Pointe, the program is a heartfelt undertaking. “It”™s really important for people to be able to keep their pets. Pets are family. A lot of our [MOW] clients don”™t have any family. They”™re basically isolated.” A condition the corona crisis hardly helps. “Their dog or cat is their family and it”™s important to keep [pets] healthy. A study said that being lonely was equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.” Accordingly, having that pet to care for as a reason to get up each day can be vital. “Somebody that needs them. It”™s a mutual arrangement that makes them both healthier and happier.” 

As shown by the explosion in demand right off the bat, there”™s a steadily increasing demand for Ani-Meals”™ services. There is not a correlating increase in resources. Asked what she”™d do with more funding, La Pointe answers, “I”™d make arrangements so we could provide more veterinarian care [which is] really expensive. When you”™re on a fixed income, you can”™t spend $800 on a cat.” Generally, you don”™t even have it to spend on yourself. She underscores, “You just don”™t have the money.” Meals On Wheels America is looking into that, but, she sees any help from that quarter as being a year away. Meanwhile, the program has an excellent relationship with 3 Pound Cats. “Dr. Marie Louderback makes house calls for basic exams and vaccines. That makes it possible for people in apartments to keep their animals.” 

Ani-Meals provides monthly, weekend deliveries of some purchased, but mainly donated pet food. This includes some specialized foods, such as canned-only or grain-free for animals with more specific dietary needs. All said, an invaluable community resource, especially these days. To volunteer, donate or otherwise support Ani-Meals: mlapointe@cesmn.org or 612.870.1125 x128. Located at 1900 11th Avenue, South Minneapolis. And you can look on Facebook. 

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