Video by Grace Reader.
Pets Forever, a semester-long course and service program founded at Colorado State University, was designed to help low-income elderly and disabled residents of Larimer County keep their pets as long as possible. But due to recent budget cuts, CSU and its Veterinary Teaching Hospital have stopped the flow of income to this program.
The annual budget for this program is $100,000, and if they cannot find a way to keep the funds coming, it will be terminated at the end of spring semester 2016, said Lori Koghan, the director and founder of the program.
The program helps ensure the well-being of the pets and clients by providing needed resources, according to its website. Students provide a variety of services for the clients and their pets, including in-home care for the pets, dog walking, transportation to medical facilities for the pets and home delivery of pet supplies and medicine.
Koghan said the program’s clients consist of 150 low income elderly and disabled people who need help to be able to keep their pets. It is the only Larimer County program that provides these services.
Mikaela Henry, a third year biology major, has been volunteering with Pets Forever since her freshman year.
For her, it has been a journey of improving communication skills and creating bonds with her clients.
“It’s not just about volunteering and cleaning after the pet,” Henry said. “It’s about creating a bond with the clients and being the friend support they need.”
Many of the clients live alone and do not have friends or family to keep them company.
Corina Lane, a blind client of Pets Forever, has been heavily impacted by the presence of the volunteers around her.
Lane recently heard about the possible termination of this program and said she is devastated.
“I would have to get rid of my pets and the amazing company of the students,” Lane said. “They are all I have in this world.”
Lane has a dog named Bentley and a cat named Indigo.
The termination of this program will affect both clients and volunteers. The volunteers receive experience and create strong bonds with their clients. Most of the clients will not be able to keep their pets because of financial and health reasons if this program doesn’t continue.
“If we cannot get the funds, it will be a loss to the people that they serve because volunteers provide a safety net for the clients,” Koghan said. “Often the students see things that other people don’t see, and when they see something is wrong, they set them up with agencies.”
Students can sign up for this course for the upcoming spring semester. More information can be found on the program’s website.
“These students are like my family,” Lane said. “I look forward to having them over, not just for my pets, but for the company too, and without them, I don’t know what I would do.”
Collegian Reporter Israa Eldeiry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @IsraaEldeiry.