The Greater Newbury Elder Pet Fund is a dynamic program constantly adjusting to meet the needs of struggling pet owners. From a program primarily focused on the needs of elder pet owners, the Fund now reaches out to serve pet owners of all ages with a particular focus on those with medical and/or mental health challenges. In addition to serving pet owners in the town of Newbury, the Pet Fund also serves the communities of Newburyport, West Newbury, Amesbury, Salisbury and Rowley. To better assist those experiencing financial challenges in providing for their companion pets, the Greater Newbury Elder Pet Fund partnered with the Community Food Pantry to provide pet food on-site during Pantry hours. The Food Pantry is open on Friday afternoons and welcomes anyone with no identification requirement.
The Greater Newbury Elder Pet Fund was founded in 2013 by Newbury Animal Control Officer, Carol Larocque. Throughout her nearly thirty-five years as an ACO, Carol often reached into her own wallet to assist pet owners in need. Many of these pet owners are retired and living on limited incomes. Understanding the important role pets play in the health and well-being of elders, Carol sought a more efficient and organized way to respond to their needs.
During the winter of 2013 Carol was called to the scene of a dog hit by a car. The injured dog had crawled off the road and into the adjacent marsh before becoming stuck in mud, ice and brush. With the assistance of a responding police officer, Carol waded into freezing water to rescue the dog. The grateful owners sent Carol a check for $100 as a thank you for her help. Once again, she reached into her own wallet to match the donation and the town established an emergency fund to aid needy pet owners in crisis.
While visiting an older friend who was in poor health, Carol looked into the woman’s refrigerator and saw no food or beverages. Concerned the woman was going hungry while spending her meager income to care for her two cats, Carol brought the woman groceries and began providing her with cat food and other supplies on a monthly basis. If one person faced the impossible choice between providing for their pets and providing for their own needs, many more were likely in similar straits.
Over the first year of what became known as the Elder Pet Fund, other members of the community became involved and donations increased. As part of the Missions Committee of Old South Church in Newburyport, Carol shared her ideas for the fund and the committee decided to adopt the fund as part of their community outreach mission.
Awards and Recognition
Volunteer of the Year
Every year the City of Newburyport holds a Yankee Homecoming Celebration to celebrate the dynamic history of the area and to honor those who demonstrate a commitment to making a positive difference in the community. In July, 2018, Carol Larocque, founder and president of the Greater Newbury Elder Pet Fund, was chosen as one of two Volunteers of the Year by the committee. Carol was honored for her work ensuring that needy pet owners continue to enjoy the health benefits of pet ownership without undue financial hardship.
State Representative Jim Kelcourse awards Pet Fund President Carol Larocque the volunteer of the year award. August 1, 2018
On February 9, 2016, Newbury Police Chief Micheal A. Reilly presented a commendation to Newbury Animal Control Officer, Carol Larocque for identifying the needs of elder pet owners and for her hard work in founding and operating the Greater Newbury Pet Fund.