Lori Kogan believes in the powerful bond between people and their pets.
Thatâ€™s why Kogan, an assistant professor in clinical sciences, established Pets Forever a year and a half ago.
The organization helps low income residents of Larimer County who are elderly, ill or disabled take care of their pets.
â€œAll too often, the very individuals who benefit most from the companionship of a pet, such as the elderly and disabled persons, are forced to give up their companions due to financial and physical limitations,â€ she said.
Pets Forever provides services in private homes and senior living environments that range from dog walking and litter box cleaning to financially assisting people with veterinary expenses. The organization also transports pets to and from the veterinarian or groomer and delivers pet food and supplies to homes.
Kogan said that pet owners who need to be hospitalized or put in rehabilitation can put their pet in a temporary foster care provided by Pets Forever.
Not only does the organization provide these services to pets and their owners, but they also teach the public about the importance of the relationship between elderly and disabled individuals and their pets. They also educate the community on diseases that can be transmitted by animals and how to prevent dogs from biting people.
College students can also earn credit by helping the organization.
Kogan said Pets Forever currently serves 25 people, and has helped more than 70 pet owners since its establishment. She said the organization anticipates a rapid expansion, as several agencies have begun promoting Pets Forever to clients and their caretakers.
Students can get involved by signing up for the service-learning course Pets Forever has to offer. Volunteers from the Fort Collins community can also participate in this program by attending weekly class meetings with the students.
â€œMy pets have always felt like more than just petsâ€¦ they are part of my family,â€ said Lauren Gould, a senior biology major who started volunteering for Pets Forever in February. â€œBeing able to help the elderly and disabled population care for their pets was something that I really wanted to help with.â€
Gouldâ€™s favorite aspect of the program is being able to interact with the clients she serves.
â€œIt makes me so happy to talk with them and hear the amazing stories that they have to share,â€ she said. â€œThey really have lived such incredible lives, and it inspires me to hear about them. I feel like I learn something new each time that I visit with them.â€
Gould said she has formed strong relationships throughout her involvement with Pets Forever, acquiring new people in her life that feel like part of her family.
â€œOften times, these animals are some of the only companionship that these people have left, so I think it is very important to help preserve this relationship as best as we can,â€ she said.
Staff writer Courtney Riley can be reached at email@example.com.