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Pet Project for people with HIV/AIDS & pets
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Pet Project for people with HIV/AIDS & pets

by James Whitely SGN Contributing Writer

If you shop at Safeway, you may have noticed the pet food drive bins located near the entrance of each location in King County. All the pet food donated goes to Seattle Humane Society's Pet Project. According to Maureen Lull, who heads up the Pet Project, it's 'a program designed to help low-income AIDS patients keep and care for their pets.'

The Pet Project takes care of all the pet needs of its clients. Most of what they give out is donated, and aside from rare but sometimes necessary medicinal charges, everything is always available at no cost whatsoever to its clients.

From pet food to leashes, collars to cat litter, the Pet Project keeps all of its 165 current clients stocked with all the pet supplies they might need. They also offer flea control and grooming and items such as beds and scratching posts and pet care information, all delivered free and at no cost.

Every other month, the Pet Project coordinates a free full-on veterinary clinic, which is all volunteer-run by local veterinarians. Most of the medication prescribed to pets, which is also donated, is provided at no cost to clients. The volunteer veterinarians also provide dental care for pets.

If a client wants a new companion, the Pet Project coordinates low-cost adoptions. If clients are hospitalized or struggling with housing, The Pet Project finds volunteers to foster their pet until clients can take care of them again.

Put simply, the Pet Project has their clients covered.

Currently, the Pet Project has 165 active clients, 90 volunteers, and Lull, who coordinates everything. The project began in 1989 and provides services to all of King County. "Most of our clients are in Seattle, in the Capitol Hill and First Hill area," Lull told SGN. The Pet Project started as an all-volunteer program, and aside from Lull, it still is. The program grew out of the pet food bank program and has been providing an amazing service ever since.

"We feel it's very important to have animal companionship," Lull told SGN. "Our mission is to bring people and pets together, but beyond [that], keeping people and their pets together.

The Pet Project believes that pets can provide the energy needed to people who may have otherwise given up hope.

If you're still looking to spread some cheer for the holidays, consider the Pet Project. Aside from supply and cash donations, there are many ways to volunteer. Volunteers are matched up one-on-one with clients and handle most of their pet care needs. This method enables volunteers to form and maintain relationships with clients and their pets. "We've got a good network, but it's all volunteer driven," Lull told SGN. The Pet Project is also looking for more veterinary specialists to volunteer their time.

"There's no set schedule. It's easy to volunteer," Lull told SGN. Volunteers meet with clients to set up times that best fit their schedules. "But there's always turnover, we always need volunteers," said Lull. "Volunteers have told me that it's really rewarding for them because they're not just helping animals, but helping people, too."

The Pet Project is a program that supports the unique power and healing that comes from the connection between people and pets. For more information, check out www.seattlehumane.org/services. Individuals looking to become clients of the Pet Project should contact Maureen Lull at (425) 649-7566. Other organizations that support people disabled by AIDS should also contact the Pet Project if they are interested in collaborative efforts or partnerships.

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