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People & Pets

Brandi Munch finds cats and dogs therapeutic

5/31/2023

Some people might declare they are either a cat person or a dog lover. Brandi Munch likes both.

Brandi had dogs as a youth and as an adult. After her dog passed away, she considered taking a break from having pets. 

“It lasted for two days,” she says. “I was too lonely.”

She went to the ARL and adopted a cat, Eleanor (Ellie for short), who is now 2 years old. 

“I decided to switch routes and get a cat instead,” she says. 

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A cat is easier to take care of. 

“I don’t have to train her or worry about rushing home to let her out,” she explains. “Cats fit better with my lifestyle.”

Ellie is Brandi’s buddy. 

“She follows me around the house wherever I go. She’s food motivated and will eat anything. She’s eaten a loaf of bread that sat on the counter.”

Ellie likes drinking from the water faucet. 

“If I’m doing dishes, she might jump in the sink and steal water. She’s also eating my foam rollers and yoga blocks,” she laughs.

Recently, Brandi’s girlfriend brought a second cat to the home. The two cats still don’t get along after six months of living together. 

“It’s been a challenge and a slow process for them to get along,” she says.

Because of her love of pets, Brandi began volunteering for Pet Project Midwest. The nonprofit helps people in need obtain food, services and supplies to keep their pets at home and out of shelters.

The Pet Project was founded in 2009 as a partnership with Meals on Wheels. When volunteers delivered food to their clients, they noticed that some people were feeding human food to their pets so they didn’t go hungry. As part of the AniMeals program, Meals on Wheels volunteers delivered both human and pet food.

She explains why she began volunteering as a way to give back. 

“In my career, I’m a mental health counselor. I wanted to do something opposite. Handing out dog food was a lot different,” she says.

She volunteers once a month on Saturdays. She’s met many new friends and says, “I love the people I meet and give food out to. I’ve developed lots of great relationships.”

Brandi understands the value of pets. 

“It feels good to help animals stay at home, and we can provide food for them. I know how therapeutic animals are for me and that other people can get the same experience for mental health. They are like family.”

Want to provide food to pets?

The Pet Project provides more than 2,800 pounds of food a month and offers the Iowa Pet Alert service. It’s 100% donation-funded, and they take donations of near-expiration date or opened pet food bags, cat litter or other unused supplies.

To obtain food, pets must be spayed or neutered, be with the owner for eight months, live in Polk County and have its owner apply for assistance. For more information about donating or assistance, contact www.thepetprojectmidwest.org. ♦

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Summer Stir - July 2024