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Billie Riddell of Swannanoa said she wouldn’t be able to have her dog and two cockatiels without the pet food that Meals on Wheels brings once a month.

“The dog food, birdseed and treats for them mean everything to me,” she said. “My dog, Pooh, that I love so much, and two cockatiels that are my companions. I’ve had Pooh for eight years and the birds for about five years. I live alone, and sometimes the Meals on Wheels volunteer is the only person I see all day. If I didn’t have my animals, that I can’t afford to feed, I wouldn’t have any companions at all. Life would be unbearable for me.”

Riddell, 67, no longer has a car (she had a wreck last year). She lives on a limited income. She said Meals on Wheels is generous with birdseed and millet sticks for the cockatiels and with dog food for Pooh.

“They have even sent bird treats and gravel,” she said. “It helps keep them healthy and well-fed. I couldn’t have them if I didn’t get help feeding them.”

Riddell said her dog is as happy to see the Meals on Wheels volunteer at lunchtime every day as she is.

“Pooh knows that there will be a special treat for him, and I know someone will stay a few minutes and talk to me,” she said. “This past week was my birthday, and a man that bakes special cakes sent me a Hummingbird cake through Meals on Wheels. They are like family to me.”

If Riddell didn’t get the dog food, she would be sharing her own food with Pooh. Low-income people and their pets are eating better because of generous donations to Meals on Wheels from the communities in which they live.

The Swannanoa and Black Mountain libraries are the organization’s pet food drop-off points through mid-February. The libraries ask that contributors not leave pet food and birdseed outside when the libraries are closed. Both libraries are open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday- Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays. The Swannanoa Library is at 101 W. Charleston Ave., Swannanoa. The Black Mountain Library is at 105 N. Doughtery St., Black Mountain.

“We have pet food drives going on at the Swannanoa Library, Black Mountain Library and one other one,” “Folks are so generous,” said Becky Blaylock, Meals on Wheels’ social service director, “that we will be able to collect enough pet food to make a real difference for our clients.”

Scottie Cannon, a longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer from Black Mountain, said the pet food is always needed by clients with animals.

“I know that pet food is always appreciated,” she said. “If pet food shows up in what I am to deliver, I’ll be delighted to drop it off for any of my client’s animals.”

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