Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels offers grooming, vet care for clients' pets through new grant

Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels (YMOW) has been providing pet food and cat litter to its clients for years, but thanks to a recent grant of $13,540, it will be able to offer veterinary care and grooming for clients' pets as well.

"I don't think we should underestimate the comfort pets provide us," says Kelly Schwartz, operations director at YMOW. "Especially during the pandemic, we weren't able to go into [clients'] homes, and many times their caregivers couldn't either. The one constant is they had their pets with them through the hardest time of the pandemic."

YMOW’s Ani-Meals program began delivering pet food and cat litter to homebound pet owners in 2009 through a partnership with the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV). In 2020, YMOW distributed 8,346 pounds of pet food to 68 cats and dogs, along with 3,360 pounds of cat litter.

Schwartz says 50 to 60 people were using the Ani-Meals program at its peak, but right now about 34 YMOW clients receive food and litter each month.

The grant from Meals on Wheels America’s We Love Pets program will add veterinary care and grooming to the services YMOW clients' pets can receive. Through partnerships with HSHV and mobile groomer Ruff Revolution, clients’ pets will have access to nail trims, haircuts, and baths, as well as veterinary care. Clients are asked to pay 20% of the cost if they're able.

Schwartz says YMOW's elderly clients often can't take their dogs for walks and may have trouble grooming and bathing their pets themselves. 

In April, YMOW staff picked up five clients' pets and took them to HSHV for a low-cost vaccination clinic. Another YMOW client was able to have a doctor look at a tumor on their pet's leg, Schwartz says, while another client was happy to have their dog bathed and groomed by Ruff Revolution.

Schwartz says YMOW clients have told her they need to stop sharing their food with their pet because they aren't getting enough to eat and human food is probably bad for the pets. The Ani-Meals program means a YMOW client will never need to make that choice again, she says.

More information about the Ani-Meals program is available here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of YMOW.