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Mission Animal Hospital introduces ElderPet program 

click to enlarge FRIEND TO ANIMALS:  Seniors in need of assistance providing veterinary care for their pet can take advantage of Mission Animal Hospital’s new program, ElderPet. - PHOTOS BY ADRIANA CATANZARITE
  • FRIEND TO ANIMALS: Seniors in need of assistance providing veterinary care for their pet can take advantage of Mission Animal Hospital’s new program, ElderPet.

Animals can be a great comfort to people, young and old alike. But for some, getting their pets the medical treatment they need can be an onerous task, especially for senior citizens. In response to this, the Mission Animal Hospital introduced a new program in July for local seniors called ElderPet. The program offers free veterinary care for the pets of seniors who are in long-term care or nursing facilities and are unable to take their pets to veterinary clinics.

“I lost my mother last year after she spent about six months in a nursing home,” said Kevin Toman, one of the creators of ElderPet. “As I visited her, I witnessed how many of her fellow residents had pets. It was obviously very difficult for those residents and other elderly to bring their pets to a veterinarian for even routine care, much less emergencies. I discussed this problem with one of my managers, Denver Coleman, and together we came up with the idea that if our elders cannot come to a veterinary clinic, perhaps there is a way for a veterinary clinic to go to them.”

Every Thursday, the Mission Animal Hospital will visit nursing homes and long-term care facilities to treat pets of seniors. This includes everything from routine services such as pet vaccinations and nail trims to the more complex dental procedures and surgeries. All of the services are offered at no cost to the pet’s owner.

“This program will benefit the community because we are doing this for our senior population at no charge. We are simply trying to give back to the community and to a generation that did so much for us,” Toman said.

Toman said that they are initially reaching out to nursing and long-term care facilities, but they would be happy to expand the program and visit the homes of individual seniors who have limited to no mobility.

“In almost 30 years of being a veterinarian I have never heard of another such outreach program,” Toman said. “It would be great if a veterinary clinic in each community nationwide followed our lead, but it is time and labor intensive. However, this is an important project, and we hope that it will help both the people and the pets who really need it.”

Mission Animal Hospital is located at 3973 S. Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. For more information about the ElderPet program or to request a visit, call 781-8888 or go to


Fast fact

The League of Women Voters will be holding a discussion panel on higher education on Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. at Cuesta College. The panel, called Can My Kids Afford College? Accessibility of Higher Education in SLO County, will feature college presidents Dr. Gil Stork of Cuesta and Dr. Jeffrey Armstrong of Cal Poly on the panel. Student body presidents from Cuesta and Cal Poly, Scott Chedester and Joi Sullivan respectively, will be featured on the discussion panel as well. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, call 782-4040 or visit


Intern Adriana Catanzarite wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send nonprofit and business news to

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