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FERNDALE – Wonderful Animals Giving Support, the popular Ferndale-based program that provides pet support to persons living with HIV/AIDS, was the recipient of a generous grant from the General Motors Foundation, made possible by GM PLUS, the affinity group for General Motors’ LGBT employees.
The $5,000 grant came in December, at a time when the program was nearly out of funds. WAGS receives no federal, state, or local governmental support of any kind, and relies strictly on donations from the community.
Begun five years ago, WAGS provides pet food, pet supplies, veterinary services and volunteer support services for the pets of people living with HIV/AIDS in the metro Detroit area. While medical and social research shows a strong positive benefit from the relationships between people and their companion animals, serious illness can make caring for pets expensive or difficult. WAGS was created to help keep this health benefit available to low income area residents.
WAGS had nearly exhausted its funds by November 2004, and other funding cuts had strained the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, its parent organization. The new GM grant, along with funds from the Steppin’ Out AIDS Walk and other fundraising events, means that WAGS will continue its mission for at least another year.
“We were really worried that we might have to suspend the WAGS program or reduce its services,” said Christine Gillis, WAGS coordinator. “Because of the generosity of GM, we’re saved.”