‘Fill the Trailer’ for low-income seniors with pets

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 16, 2017

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The township is partnering with Macomb County Animal Control, the Macomb Food Program, Clinton Township and Pet Supplies Plus to help elderly pet owners living in county-subsidized senior housing complexes.

The initiative kicked off when township employees heard from Meals on Wheels volunteers that seniors were sharing delivered meals with their furry companions. There are seven such complexes in the county that allow pets.

“They’re struggling to feed their companion animals,” said Marcia Weredick, an appraiser in the Shelby Township Assessing Department and the pet food drive liaison. “(My husband Ken) and I have two little spoiled rescue cats at our house and could never imagine them going without. I think we’d split a can of tuna four ways.”

For many senior citizens, a cat or dog is their closest companion. And for many people, asking for help is hard.

“Some of the folks are so happy and just crying,” Weredick said. “It makes them feel good, and it’s just nice to do something for the community.”

The official Fill the Trailer drive will take place Oct. 20-22 at Pet Supplies Plus, 42241 Garfield Road, north of Canal Road, in Clinton Township.

The public can also drop off donations now through Oct. 22.

Donation locations can be found at the Shelby Township municipal building, 52700 Van Dyke Ave.; the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive; the Shelby Township Police Department, 52530 Van Dyke Ave.; the Shelby Township Department of Public Works, 6333 23 Mile Road; and the Shelby Township Senior Center, 51670 Van Dyke Ave.

Last fall was the first time the township held the pet food and supplies drive. The effort garnered approximately 8,000 pounds of food.

This year, the goal is 12,500 pounds of donated dog and cat food, cat litter, and dog and cat treats. Those who donate can enter a free raffle entry for gift cards. On Oct. 21, Macomb County Animal Control will be on-site at Pet Supplies Plus with homeless pets to encourage adoptions.

Macomb County Chief Animal Control Officer Jeffrey Randazzo said the adoption fees vary, from $40 to $180, and that there will be a few dogs and more cats because “we always have cats.”

“We’ll be there Saturday the 21st, probably like 10 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.),” he said. “People should get involved with seniors in the community that are having financial hardships so they can retain their pets and donate as much as they can. It definitely helps keep pets in the home.”

To support homeless animals, Randazzo said the Macomb County Animal Shelter has an Amazon wish list, and the shelter is always in need of Dawn dish soap, laundry pods and heavy-duty construction garden hoses.

“People have been very receptive. People have been dropping items off at our home — our friends and co-workers,” Weredick said. “There’s quite a bit of food in my garage right now.”

Karyn Schaffner, the Shelby Township general employee union president and a Clerk’s Office employee, said no donation will go to waste. Surpluses, she said, have gone to the Washington Township-based Samaritan House, a nonprofit food pantry that serves low-income people residing in northwest Macomb County.

“Our understanding is Macomb County’s pantry is not allowed to house animal food. Some food is delivered directly to the senior housing centers. They’ve agreed to keep it there to distribute to their residents,” Schaffner said. “Some has gone to Macomb County Animal Control, especially the very large bags (that are) difficult for some of the senior centers to store.”

Township leaders applauded the efforts of township employees.

“It is always inspiring to see our community come together to help our neighbors in need,” Supervisor Rick Stathakis said. “Whether it is the current employee pet food drive for seniors in need or the annual Giving Tree program, our community always goes above and beyond when challenged to help each other.”

For more information, call the Supervisor’s Office at (586) 731-5145 or Pet Supplies Plus at (586) 228-0090. For more information about Macomb County Animal Control or to donate, visit www.animalcontrol.macombgov.org/AnimalControl-Home.