Sebasticook Family Doctors has gone to the dogs - and cats, birds and any other non-human companion that one may have.
The Kibble Club is a new program at SFD and is designed to assist low-income patients in feeding their furry friends especially during the winter months.
“Animals provide comfort day and night, they don’t mind being told the same story over and over again, provide companionship and completely unconditional love,” said Alexis Winslow, animal lover and intern at Sebasticook Family Doctors, and mastermind behind the Kibble Club. “But animals need proper nutrition and attention to survive so we want to help. Pets are an important part of a family, especially for seniors. Pet can give them a sense of purpose.”
Studies have found that that pet owners are healthier, have less stress, and use less medication. They also recover faster from surgery and illness, tend to deal better with stressful situations, and are less likely to feel lonely. And the need for social contact and support is often not met for older individuals who may have lost friends and family members.
The Kibble Club is completely funded by donations of either pet food or money, with which supplies can be purchased. People are encouraged to drop off donations at any one of SFD’s five locations.
“We are hoping some stores will support the cause as well,” said Winslow. “We would happily take the damaged goods because we just tape up the bags and pass them on.”
There are eligibility criteria to become a member of the club, including being a patient of Sebasticook Family Doctors, meeting the income guidelines, and ensuring the animal is spayed or neutered. This is a supplemental program only can cannot be the sole source of nourishment for the animal but it will help.
Patients complete a form agreeing to the terms and are given a membership card to present when they pick up their allotted pet food.
“If we can help with pet food, than the patient can spend the money on medicine, or food for themselves or on oil,” said Winslow. “It is heartbreaking to think that some people have to choose between basic necessities. And people who love their pets are going to put them first.”
There are naysayers, of course, with judgmental overtones who chide that if people cannot afford to feed themselves, they should not even have a pet. But aside from the health benefits pet ownership bestows, sometimes circumstances change and an illness or lost job can be financially devastating.
“The answer is not to take the pet to a shelter but to help and support the owner,” added Winslow.
This is a tough road to be sure. Programs that depend strictly on donations face challenges. But Sebasticook Family Doctors is up to it.
“That’s what we do here,” said Winslow. “We take care of our patients and help them in any way we can. We never want to think of a family that has to give up their beloved pet. We just had to do something.”
Family. Whether human or furry – that’s what Sebasticook Family Doctors is all about.
Sebasticook Family Doctors serves Canaan, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Newport and Pittsfield.