Midstate Volunteer Group Ensures Pet-Owner Bond

When I caught up with Theresa Fazzolari in her Camp Hill home on a cold January morning, she was doing the same thing that she did when I first met her seven years ago.  She was sorting and bagging donated dog and cat food to be delivered to clients of her “Animeals” program.

The human service program provides food to nearly 50 low income pet owners in Cumberland and Dauphin Counties.

“With the economy today, people are really having a hard time feeding their pets,” said Fazzolari,  “especially low income senior citizens.”

While checking off names on her clients list, Fazzolari reflected on why the nine-year-old program has become so personal.

“I just love all my folks,” she daid. “My oldest client is 101 years old and she still lives alone.”

Animeals operates with four volunteers on her staff, plus additional help from Goodwill Community Services and Help Plus.  The donated food comes from the Harrisburg Humane Society and Animal Rescue Food Bank in Wellsville.

“We actually provide food to 27 cats and 22 dogs every month,” said Fazzolari. “That’s over 500 pounds of food a month.”

Recently, Animeals expanded their services to include pet grooming house calls from Pet Bath and Beyond of Camp Hill and veterinary services from Dr. Tracy Moussa, owner of Animal Birth Control of Harrisburg Area.

Volunteer Charlie Palenz has been delivering pet food and doing handy man projects for Animeals clients since the program began. He says his reward is the gratitude of those being helped.

“They are so appreciative of having this form of help for their pets,” said Palenz. “They love their pets.”

Some deliveries are left at the door, but most involve taking the food inside the client’s home or apartment.  The visits allow the drivers to check on the clients and their pets and pass along any concerns to agencies that can help.

Lois Hughes said that without Animeals, her companion pet, Odie, would suffer.

Watching the 13 and a half year old Golden Retriever dig into a fresh bowl of food, Hughes noted: “We got him off of table food now and he’s eating good dog food.”

At another stop, Palenz was greeted by an excited Boxer dog, Bronco, and his appreciative owner, Larry Miller.

“I couldn’t make it with Bronco without this help,” said Miller. “I’m on a fixed income and I just couldn’t afford to feed him.”

Driving away to his next stop, Palenz smiled when thinking about his charitable mission.

“It’s always a loving experience,” he said.

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