For many seniors, fur babies are like best friends. They smile with their tails and love you just the way you are. But for some people, it’s not always easy to get to the pet store, and vet bills can add up. That’s why the Council on Aging of Central Oregon has created the Pet Pals Program, which provides two services:

“Some of our clients are homebound, so it’s tough for them to go out and shop for pet food and get to appointments for veterinary care. Others are struggling to pay bills and take care of themselves. The Pet Pals program helps fill these needs so our Meals on Wheels recipients can relax and enjoy the companionship of their furry and feathered friends,” said Stacy Eidler, Pet Pals Program Manager.

Are Our Purrfect Companions the New Fountain of Youth?

It turns out that fluffy and fido play an extraordinary role in the health and well-being of older adults. And the results may be more effective than medication.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pets “increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, [contribute to] better cognitive function in older adults, and [provide] more opportunities to socialize.” Decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels can be happy side effects of more exercise. 
  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that pets and therapy animals can help alleviate anxiety, depression, stress, and feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
  • A National Institutes of Health survey found that interacting with animals can reduce stress-related hormone levels called cortisol.
  • John Hopkins Medicine reported that 84% of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) saw a decrease in their symptoms, with 40% of patients able to reduce their medication. Owning a pet can also boost oxytocin levels and reduce blood pressure.
  • On the emotional side, 83 percent of seniors who live alone say “unconditional love” is the most satisfying aspect of pet ownership.
The reviews of Pet Pals are pawsitively glowing.

Janet Stone’s cat Bob went in for a wellness check and seemed excited about life again. “I feel blessed by this program,” said Stone. After her cat’s dental procedure, Jeanette Jania exclaimed, “I’m grateful for this help. My kitty Teko is eating better than he has in a long time.”

There are currently 89 pets in the program ranging from dogs and kittens to a cockatiel. The Council on Aging is working to grow the program to other cities across Central Oregon. As Pet Pals expands, donations are welcome and much appreciated. 

To date, 43 pets belonging to 28 Meals on Wheels clients have undergone wellness exams, vaccinations, nail trims, microchips, dental procedures, and even the removal of a tumor, which the Council on Aging has fully covered.

We couldn’t do this all on our own

Community partnerships have been a big help. In addition to the Rawley Project, Companion Pet Clinic, and Wickiup Animal Hospital, we also work closely with the Furry Friends Foundation in Sisters to provide pet food and supplies, the Humane Society of Central Oregon which has shared knowledge and resources, and the Hope Foundation for emergency needs. For this, we’re furrever grateful! As Pet Pals expands, donations are welcome and much appreciated. 

For questions about the program, please contact Stacy Eidler, Pet Pals Manager, at 541-323-0433 or

Please fill out our online volunteer form for the Pet Pals Program. 

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