by Kelly Rae Smith - Lowcountry Dog Magazine - Summer 2013
Coming across people like Daniel Island Animal Hospital’s Dr. Lynne Flood sure is refreshing. During a time when our attention quickly sweeps from one ugly crisis to another, it is nice to see some humanity happening. Even better that it’s so close to home.
Dr. Flood recently began the charitable organization DIAH on Wheels, an initiative to help homebound seniors living in poverty to receive low to no-cost food and medical care for their pets. DIAH has the mobility to do so due to a retired ambulance truck that they have repurposed into a vet clinic on wheels.
The idea was born from a combination of interests. Dr. Flood not only has a passion for animals, but also for the elderly. She recently earned a graduate gerontology certificate and was especially concerned with the social science aspect and the concept of aging in place.
“Aging in place is a term that is used in gerontology circles,” she says, “and it’s just an initiative to help seniors live in their home for as long as possible. And it’s better for them because they can stay in their home and keep their pets. I want them to keep their pets because I think that’s a huge factor when it comes to their quality of life.”
After some thorough research, she and the DIAH practice manager, Abby Suiter, realized that the real need for assistance of this type is great within Berkeley County, specifically the Cainhoy/Huger area. And now DIAH on Wheels has joined up with Berkeley Seniors, an organization that does what they can to support the physical, emotional, and mental well being of their older residents. Inside 85 to 90 percent of the homes they visit are seniors living below the poverty line. Most of them have pets, and it is a concern that the residents are sharing their meals with the animals that they cannot afford to feed.
DIAH on Wheel’s first mission is to collect enough pet food for Berkeley Seniors to deliver along with their meals for seniors, so even all four-legged residents are properly nourished. Then, they will begin immunizations for these pets for those who can’t get out of the house to get petcare and can’t afford a mobile groomer. All the while, Dr. Flood and volunteers will gradually realize the scope of the need and let their mission evolve from there, eventually taking the truck out to the communities in need to give these animals and their best friends even more attention.
“After the food and immunization processes,” she says, “I want to do some public health stuff. I want to deworm, treat these pets for fleas or intestinal parasites or skin problems, or whatever they have. I think it’ll be fun. It’ll be fun for me to get out there, and it’ll be something that will help my county.”
Look out for ways to help the initiative by tuning into the DIAH on Wheels Facebook page, where updates will be posted regarding their GoFundMe plans as well as a DIAH loyalty card that will donate a percentage of profits to DIAH on Wheels. Additionally, volunteers are needed to come along and keep the residents company while their pets receive care.