Oftentimes, when someone learns they have AIDS, family and friends may not know how to respond and as a result pull away from the person infected.

But pets offer unconditional love – no matter what the situation. And its times like this that friends, furry or otherwise, are important.

It has been proven that pets can be some of the best medicine for aged, sick or physically challenged individuals – and people with AIDS are no exception. Being able to keep a beloved pet during this critical time is important, since the afflicted individual frequently is faced with many other losses.

But what happens to the animal when its owner is no longer strong enough for walks, grooming or updating vaccinations?

Enter the PET PALS program, established in 1988 by the AIDS Resource Center in Dallas.

PET PALS offer the following services:

  • Low-cost vaccinations and heartworm checks,
  • Discounted veterinarian services,
  • Referrals for low cost spay/neuter,
  • Low-cost kennels or foster homes for pets when their owners are hospitalized,
  • Locate new homes for pets after the owners are gone,
  • Help with grooming, and
  • Free pet food.

The most rewarding aspect of PET PALS is the love and care given to the pets and their owners. There is comfort in knowing that your pet, which for many AIDS patients represents a best friend, will be taken care of.

Craig Hess, PET PALS coordinator, says the program has plenty of volunteers. However, the following items are needed:

  • Dog and cat pet food,
  • Cat litter,
  • Discount vet services and emergency care, and
  • Monetary donations.

Send donations to the AIDS Resource Center – PET PALS Program, P.O. Box 190712, Dallas 75219. Or call 521-5444 for information.

An early holiday gift idea is to purchase a pewter and rhinestone pet charm created for PET PALS by fashion designer Todd Oldham. There are three dogs and two cats to choose from at $20 each. They are available at the SPCA, 362 S. Industrial Blvd., or call 651-9611, ext. 124, for information.

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