Sergeant was acting funny. Despite being fed, walked, and cuddled, the gentle giant would not stop pawing at Mr. Huitt’s leg and then running to the front door. He’d paw, turn and run, whimpering the whole time. When Huitt rose and walked toward the front of his high-rise apartment, the issue became immediately apparent. The smell of smoke.

A neighbor with dementia has forgotten about dinner on the stove and went to bed, which started a small fire. Huitt banged on her door and, after politely asking to be let in, extinguished the blaze. A potential tragedy was avoided by Huitt’s swift action and the action of his best friend: a large mutt with friendly brown eyes. A friend he almost had to give up because he couldn’t afford his food.

Channel 13 anchor, Sharron Melton, with Huitt and Sergeant.

“Animals become like family—this is the only family I have here,” Huitt said as he gestured to Sergeant. “Before [AniMeals] I used to have to serve my meals to him—I made sure he ate better than I did because I am in love with this animal. I make sure he eats before I do.”

Stories like this peppered the AniMeals on Wheels Best Friends Brunch on Saturday, making it clear the impact delivering dog or cat food goes far beyond helping people keep their beloved pets. The program, started when Interfaith Ministries heard reports from their Meals on Wheels drivers about seniors going hungry so that their animals could eat, not only provides pet food—it also creates an opportunity to better serve needy seniors by through personal contact.

Huitt and Lynette Brimble, AniMeals volunteer. Huitt is one of the seniors she serves on her route.

“We do much more than deliver dog food,” volunteer Lynette Brimble said. “[During our visits] we listen to our seniors and we report any problems they may be experiencing. The AniMeals staff makes very hard to make sure that our seniors and their pets get the attention they deserve.” 

For their support of AniMeals on Wheels, Tama Lundquist and Tena Lundquist Faust were honored by the crowd of elite Houstonians. The well-dressed audience opened their wallets to purchase raffle tickets and donate to keep the programs growing. An estimated 1,100 seniors take advantage of the program yearly and that number is rising.

At the first-ever fundraiser for this cause, the humans weren’t the only ones dressed to the nines. A canine couture fashion show gave the crowd a peek at what the dapper dogs (and one fashionable feline) will be wearing this spring. Get your “AWW” face ready and take a peek at the slideshow for more. 

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