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Raising Donations for Older Pet Owners in Wyoming

'Care for Critters' program helps seniors afford pet treatments

Woman pictured with her dogs in the grass

Matt Nager

En español | Maxine Yeager's friend gave up her own medication to afford treatment for her sick dog.

After her friend, a fellow volunteer at a senior center, landed in the hospital four years ago, Yeager vowed to do more for older pet owners who face social isolation on limited incomes.

"Her companionship with that pet was her life,” said Yeager, 53, of Green River, Wyo., who has a 10-year-old springer spaniel. “It's more than just a pet for a lot of our seniors. It's their family."

Yeager threw her efforts — and crafting skills — into Care for Critters, an AARP-supported program that last year raised nearly $2,800 in donations and helped more than 130 people in southwest Wyoming.

"She's always thinking of things that can help seniors,” said Shirli Woodward, 77, of Rock Springs, who received nearly $300 worth of aid for vaccines and medicines for her five dogs.

Yeager makes donating easy. She builds three-dimensional doghouses out of black foam board and packing tape. She attaches bone- and paw-shaped tags listing dollar amounts or items people need, such as a dog bed or $10 toward a vet visit. She takes the doghouses to pet stores and veterinary offices, where the tags encourage donations.

Yeager has worked as an AARP volunteer on several projects, but she's proudest of Care for Critters.

"You know you're touching a life and becoming an anchor to someone who might be isolated,” she said. “It's letting the whole community reach out.”

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