CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s 33 WYTV Hometown Heroes work to bring a little joy to residents in long term care and assisted living facilities, helping senior dogs in the process.
Kristin Demidovich returned to the area in 2019 to work with her father’s company Health Care Providers. They provide medical care to seniors, but Demidovich wanted to go one step further.
“When I moved back, I decided I wanted to start an organization focused on the senior population and granting wishes of theirs,” Demidovich said.
She started a program called Health Care Provider Wishes. Through her work with her father’s business, she was able to get a good idea of where to start
“One wish that we heard consistently was about animals, so that’s when we partnered with Animal Charities of Ohio to take senior pets from Animal Charities to the senior communities,” Demidovich said.
Jan Macmurchy is the adoption coordinator at Animal Charities. She worked with Demidovich to get the program up and running and helped to train dogs through Dog Smarts Unleashed.
“We would work on basic obedience and training, but really just socializing them for that whole hour,” Macmurchy said.
They began taking pups to around 25 different facilities across Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana counties. The visits have been a benefit for both residents and the pups.
“Going into the facility they say, ‘Oh, I had a dog. I grew up on a farm.’ Being able to talk to them more about their past with the long-term memory, it’s wonderful for them. It’s the best medicine,” Demidovich said.
Macmurchy said the program also helped place dogs.
“Every animal that comes through our program, every single animal that we’ve brought to the facilities has been adopted,” she said.
Since 2019, 20 to 25 dogs have been adopted, but the program hit a snag, as did most things, in 2020.
“Things had to shift dramatically starting in March of last year. The animal visits stopped immediately,” Demidovich said.
With visits sidelined, they shifted focus to various drives and small acts of kindness, hosting a blanket drive, distributing donated socks from Bomba socks, working with schools to get cards sent to the residents and started pen pal programs. Local tree farmer Fodor Farms donated fresh flowers.
“It really makes us want to push forward to do more and more. They are sometimes so forgotten by the community, but it’s something so little that can change their entire life,” Demidovich said.
For more information about the Health Care Provider Wishes, email contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.