Tonawanda News — Some days Grace Wingard is practically up to her ears in dog and cat food. And it makes her question how she ever got into feeding needy animals in the first place. But, she’s not planning to give up any time soon.
Wingard, like several other pet lovers in Western New York, has put action behind her love for mankind’s furry friends, creating one of several new services for Niagara residents and their dogs, cats and other critters.
Wingard works at the Donner Creek Veterinary Clinic in Lockport as the practice manager. Two years ago, her boss, Dr. Jeanne Fournier, was looking for a new way to give back to the community. With money donated at the clinic’s annual open house, Wingard founded Niagara Pets Meals on Wheels.
Every week Wingard goes out and buys enough dog and cat food for the 56 registered pets whose shut-in owners are cared for by to the Niagara County Office for the Aging meal delivery program. Wingard bags and sorts each portion. The food is sent to the volunteers who deliver for the food program, and then, pets of shut-ins receive nutritious meals along with their owners.
The program makes a big difference to Mildred Harris, 72, of Niagara Falls, whose 1-year-old kitty, Cali, gets pet food from the program. Harris says the cat helps fill her days, amusing her with its endless curiosity and the games of chase, and the pet food comes in handy.
“I only get one check a month so this helps me,” Harris said.
Without such a program, some seniors give their pets food from their own meals, said Kara Donovan, coordinator of the county’s home delivered meal program — a program that is always seeking volunteers to aid in deliveries.
“It’s better, nutritionally, for pets and people,” she said, if everyone is eating food that was created especially for their dietary needs.