Food banks help people keep pets
More food pantries are helping financially struggling pet owners. Even Meals on Wheels sometimes delivers cat food.
The recession has brought heart-wrenching stories of pets abandoned in foreclosed homes or surrendered to shelters when their financially strapped owners could no longer keep them.
In recent years, organizations have sought to help people with financial challenges keep their pets.
The Meals on Wheels organizations that provide hot meals to elderly people have added deliveries of pet food in some areas.
"We discovered last year that many of our seniors share their meals with their pets, because they can't afford pet food," Allison Adams, care manager for Meals on Wheels in Spokane, Wash., told The Spokesman-Review. "Some people may not understand that a pet is that important to someone, but I wasn't surprised when we discovered our clients were sharing their own meals with their dogs and cats."
The pet food is donated by individuals, veterinarians and pet food companies.
The national Meals on Wheels Association of America started a "We All Love Our Pets (WALOP)" initiative in 2006 in an effort to encourage local organizations to help homebound seniors feed their pets.
Some food pantries around the nation have added pet food to their wares. More pet food pantries also have sprung up during the recession.
Paula Brown, 68, is a volunteer who is in charge of pet food distribution at the Loaves and Fishes food pantry near Philadelphia. "People who have pets should not have to give them up because they are poor," she told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Inquirer reported that the Petco Foundation, the charitable arm of the pet store, works with about 700 pet food banks around the country, about half of them affiliated with human food banks.
"When we first started doing this, the specific pet food pantries were few and far between," Paul Jolly, vice president of the foundation, told the newspaper.
The Cat Channel website lists some places people can get free pet food. Most organizations that provide help to pet owners are local. Do a search for "pet food bank" and your town or check with food pantries and animal welfare organizations.
If you're struggling to put food on the table, you don't need a pet. If you don't have one, this is no time to get one.
But it's one thing to decide not to get a dog and another to abandon a dog or cat that has been a faithful companion for years. Animals surrendered to shelters are as likely to be euthanized as they are to find new homes.
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