From helping you get exercise to lowering blood pressure and lessening anxiety, the benefits of pet ownership are immeasurable. But owning a pet can be costly and daunting, especially for senior citizens living on a fixed income or suffering from health issues that may result in hospitalizations that take them away from their beloved furry friends.
That’s where the Andrew Fund comes in. The fund is part of the Carter Burden Network (CBN), a 46-year-old organization created by late City Councilman Carter Burden that now serves more than 5,000 seniors across the city.
The Andrew Fund was founded in 1994 by an anonymous CBN board member in honor of her late beloved Yorkie, Andrew.
“People became concerned because a lot of clients at the time, who were living on low income and Social Security towards the end of the month, if their pet got sick or needed some kind of medical attention, they wouldn’t buy food for themselves or forego getting their own medications in order to pay for a vet bill or buy food for the pet,” Mary Dodd, program director of the Andrew Fund, said of its roots.
Dodd estimates that the Andrew Fund — which runs solely on board member donations and its founder’s estate — has given between $200,000 to $300,000 to help hundreds of senior New Yorkers with everything from food and boarding to veterinarian care for dogs, cats, birds and turtles.
“I can’t tell you how many times we do a first-time interview with people and they say, ‘This is the only reason I get up in the morning, to feed my cat or take care of my dog. It’s my only reason for being,’” Dodd said. “Very often we have people who have to go into the hospital. What would happen to the pet? We’re very fortunate this has helped numerous people over the years.”
One of them is Roosevelt Island resident Gloria Salazar, who was able to keep her foster dog, Milo, when the shelter was unable to rehome him due to his behavioral issues.
“He was in bad shape,” she said of the rat terrier when she got him. “He was trying to escape, he always had bad stomachaches and many problems.”
With the help the Andrew Fund, Salazar was able to tend to Milo’s health issues and now, “he’s completely different,” she said. “He’s fat. He still tries to escape, but when I call him, he comes back. I’m so grateful for the help. I love Milo.”
The Andrew Fund is available to any client of the Carter Burden Network. To become a client, make a donation or learn more, visit carterburdennetwork.org.