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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Pima Council on Aging Helps Older Adults and Their Pets

Learn how a AAA partnered with the animal welfare community to help keep pets with their owners and ensure older adults and their pets receive proper nutrition.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Pima Council on Aging's Helping People + Helping Pets: A Community Collaboration program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Home and Community-Based Services category.
 
Many older adults who receive home-delivered meals share their food with their pets because they do not have the means to buy proper pet food. Through a partnership between Pima Council on Aging and Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare, Helping People + Helping Pets volunteers deliver donated pet food, walk dogs, clean litter boxes and provide social interaction for older adults. Pima Council on Aging also ensures the pets are vaccinated, spayed and/or neutered.
 
Creating an infrastructure that allows for partnerships between human services organizations, like Pima Council on Aging, and the animal welfare community has been beneficial for both of these nonprofit communities. This collaboration helps prevent older adult pet owners from having to give up their pets to shelters and helps alleviate social isolation that older adults may experience if they have to give up their pets. Having the infrastructure to work together across sectors has been critical to better serve older adults.
 
Thanks to this program, participants no longer have to share their food with their pets to avoid their pets going hungry. With Pima Council on Aging expanding its scope beyond traditional health and human services to ensure both older adults and their pets are receiving proper nutrition, participants are happier and healthier.
 
For other AAAs interested in developing a similar program, Pima Council on Aging recommends utilizing community partners as much as possible and surveying older adults receiving agency services to see what pet-related challenges they face. Partnerships are what help similar programs grow and the network you establish will be able to help provide assistance with future and ongoing animal welfare needs. Pima Council on Aging and their partners are now exploring the possibility for pet respite care for those going into the hospital with no other resources for their pets.
 
To learn more about Pima Council on Aging's Helping People + Helping Pets: A Community Collaboration program, contact Maddy Bynes, Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator, at mbynes@pcoa.org.
 
For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community! You can also listen to our four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs. Also keep your eye out for our February opening of the submissions process for the 2020 AIA Awards.

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