Making a Difference: New outreach program helping senior citizens' pets in Blair County
BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WJAC) - A new outreach program in Blair County is touching senior citizens' hearts and making their pets' tails wag.
In this week's making a difference, one woman is spreading the word about this program that helps the elderly care for their pets and keep them home despite their age, financial situation or health issues.
“I can't live in a house without a dog, I can't do it,” Lydia Booker said.
Senior citizens who live on their own often depend on their pets for comfort and companionship.
“They’re you're kids," Booker said.
Lydia Booker lives in Tyrone. She's visually impaired and can no longer drive.
She was in a ruff situation when her dogs Bessie and Wallie needed to go to the vet.
Thankfully, Anne Trexler from Altoona had the purr-fect solution.
She spends a lot of time helping the elderly and is spearheading a new outreach program in Blair County called ‘Mojo's Mission’ that helps seniors and shut-ins care for their pets, including dogs, cats and birds.
“These seniors, a lot of them are widowed. Their pets are their companions so the longer we can keep them together, the better so that's really the gist of our mission,” said Anne Trexler who is the program coordinator for Mojo’s Mission, which was created by the Mia Foundation. "I realized that shut-ins with pets, their pets are also shut-ins and we have some great transportation programs like Blair County Senior Services. However, you can't take your cat or dog and get on the van and go to the vet or groomer."
Now Wallie and Bessie's tails are wagging because they made it to the vet.
“Anne takes the dogs and gets them their shots, gets them groomed and I think that's wonderful,” Booker said. "I think that's the most precious thing anyone could come up with."
The mission was put together because of a chihuahua named Mojo, whose owner loved him but had Alzheimer’s disease.
“Eventually she forgot she even had him so he was found in a room, locked in a bedroom on the verge of starvation,” Trexler said.
Trexler volunteers with the Mia Foundation, which helps animals born with birth defects get medical treatment and find homes. She adopted a few of the dogs with cleft pallet and swimmer syndrome.
The Mia Foundation stepped into help Mojo but he didn't make it.
To save other animals from that same fate, this free program was established. Mojo’s Mission provides transportation to vet and grooming appointments, pet food as needed, pet welfare checks, and education for caregivers.
“I am so excited for this program. I think that the pets that are living with a shut-in I think they need each other. I know the joy that my dogs bring to me and I just think it's a win, win,” Trexler said.
Trexler wants to reach more seniors and hopefully grow to other counties and states.
"People if they're like me, they love their animals and they want the care the animals need. And Anne is the person to get in touch with,” Booker said. "I couldn't thank her enough, I could not thank her enough."
But they need more volunteers to help animals like Mojo.
"I think any animal lover and not just that, anyone who’s been touched by Alzheimer's, Dementia or anyone who has a shut-in parent or relative. I think we all know somebody. If they're no longer able to get in their car and go then neither is their dog or cat,” Trexler said. “Just knowing they're helping to keep a loved pet with it's owner is just reward in itself."
So seniors' furry family members can stay happy, healthy and home for as long as possible.
Trexler said elderly caregivers should always check on pets in homes. Also, it’s a good idea for anyone to keep an eye on elderly neighbors and ask them about their pets.
If you or a loved one who is a senior citizen may need assistance taking care of their pets, just contact mojo's mission.
Trexler said limited financial assistance will be available for routine veterinary care on an as needed basis.
If you want to help the program, you can become a volunteer or donate money or pet food.
To donate you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 814-631-9282.
You can also go to PayPal and donate to email@example.com, just make sure to specify Mojo’s Mission in the message section.
If donating pet food, contact them and food donations can be arranged to be picked up.