WEST CHESTER (June 22) – Henry’s Helping Paws Fund, the new initiative launched by state Senator Andy Dinniman, Meals on Wheels of Chester County, and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation was recently awarded a $2,500 grant from Meals on Wheels America.

“We’ve come a long way in only a few months’ time, and it’s rewarding to see our program getting some national attention and support,” Dinniman said.

Henry’s Helping Paws Fund delivers pet food and pet care items free of charge to homebound senior citizens who lack the financial resources to care for their beloved animal companions. It is named for Henry, the Dinniman family’s 9-year-old standard poodle who died in December 2014 and was well-known throughout the Chester County region.

Senator Dinniman with Mr. Harvey Phillips of Valley Township. Mr. Phillips and his dog, Inky, were the first recipients of complimentary food through Henry’s Helping Paws Fund.

Senator Dinniman with Mr. Harvey Phillips of Valley Township. Mr. Phillips and his dog, Inky, were the first recipients of complimentary food through Henry’s Helping Paws Fund.

The grant comes through the 2016 Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program. The funds can only be used for pet food purchases, pet food storage, gas for volunteers to deliver pet food, cat litter, veterinary care, and other pet care services.

“The Meals on Wheels Loves Pets initiative is just another way that Meals on Wheels can deliver so much more than just a meal,” said Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander. “Through grant funding, educational opportunities and in-kind donations for our member programs, we hope to grow current pet programs and help those looking to start new ones.”

Dinniman praised Jeani Purcell and the staff at Meals on Wheels of Chester County, as well as Dr. James Orsini and Dr. Tom Garg of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation for their work in getting Henry’s Helping Paws Fund up and running.

“Our Meals on Wheels clients are thrilled that their pets are included in such a great service,” Purcell, Director of Meals on Wheels of Chester County, said. “They no longer have to worry about their four-legged friends going hungry.”

Since Henry’s Helping Paws Fund was launched earlier this year, it has grown to deliver pet food to almost two dozen senior citizens for their cats and dogs.

dog-843800_1920“Keeping pets and their people together – that is the goal of Henry’s Helping Paws Fund and so far the support for it has been unprecedented and overwhelming,” Dinniman said. “In fact, Chester County is serving as such a successful model that we plan to eventually take it statewide and later even on to the national level.”

Dinniman said he got the idea for a mobile food pantry when he heard about senior citizens, and disabled residents on low or fixed incomes who are homebound and struggle to afford adequate food, pet care items, and veterinary medical services for their pets.

“It’s a heartbreaking situation because for many these animals are their only companions,” he said. “And it’s important to keep pets and their owners together in their homes – not only does it have therapeutic value, it also takes the burden off rescue organizations that are overwhelmed with surrendered animals.”

Pet food and care items are funded by private and corporate donors through the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, while Meals on Wheels makes the actual deliveries. In addition, representatives from local senior centers, senior housing facilities, and other nonprofits are identifying homebound pet owners in need. Finally, pro bono veterinary care will eventually be provided by local partners and veterinary residents.
For more information visit www.pavetfoundation.org, or contact Senator Dinniman’s Office at 610-692-2112.



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