From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1993:
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico––It isn’t easy
to pay rent, buy food, and keep a pet on just $500 a
month, but hundreds of New Mexico senior citizens do it,
with the help of the five-year-old Lifelong Friends pro-
gram, a project of Sangre de Cristo Animal Protection.
Coordinated from Albuquerque by Shirley Hendrickson,
Lifelong Friends provides free and/or assisted veterinary
care to the pets of seniors.
“Pets are extremely valuable to seniors,” explains
SCAP vice president Frances Bentley. “Studies show that
they live longer when they have animal
companionship––so many seniors don’t have other humans
they can talk to and relate to. And here in New Mexico,”
which ranks 42nd out of the 50 states in per capita income,
“we have so many seniors who are living in poverty. We
put those concerns together when we formed Lifelong
Friends. Our income ceiling is very low, and it should be
higher, but unfortunately we do have limited funding. At
least we’re able to help some of the seniors who need it the
Starting with only one participating veterinarian,
SCAP now has veterinarians all over New Mexico
involved, according to Bentley. Lifelong Friends helps
seniors with neutering, vaccinations, and even emergency
care. A parallel program assists low-income people of any
age with neutering.
The biggest problem Lifelong Friends has is the
perennial bugaboo of most charitable projects: lack of
secure funding. For that reason, seniors are limited to
having two pets apiece in the program. “We had some
help from various state agencies for a while,” Bentley
says, “but they pulled out after budget cuts. Now we’re
really trying to grab onto some corporate money.
Fortunately we’ll have our president, Elizabeth Jennings,
working fulltime after May 1. A wealthy patron is
bankrolling her for a year, and maybe that can help us to
bring in some backing.”
Details on Lifelong Friends are available from
Hendrickson at 505-265-1961, from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.