Providing pet food to those who are struggling to make ends meet, also helps ensure the pets will remain with their families. The Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County's outreach program, Kibbles on Wheels had to expand their need of donated food from one year ago. Last year, Kibbles on Wheels required 1600 pounds of food per month to meet the community’s needs. This year, they are averaging 4,000 pounds of food per month to meet the community’s needs. They are currently helping 100 families per month, and that number appears to be growing.
Florida Studio Theatre of Sarasota partnered with Wet Noses Dog Boutique and The New Barker dog magazine to help raise food for the Humane Society of Sarasota County’s Food Pantry outreach program. It was a simple promotion with a simple request: during the two-week run of the play Sylvia, A.R. Gurney’s story about a couple and their dog, ticket holders were asked to bring a bag or a can of un-opened dog or cat food. The promotion raised 1500 pounds of food, enough to cover the program’s needs for three months. But even more important, it raised the awareness level in Sarasota that such a program existed, and furthermore, that it was even needed.
Teresa McSheffrey, the Western Florida Territory Manager for WellPet helped to arrange for a delivery of 1700 bags of dog food to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The Food Assistance Program, called Casper’s Cupboard, is available to any pet owner in need of help. They keep the process simple. “It’s very hard for many people to ask for help,” said Sherry Silk, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “They are good, hardworking people who suddenly find themselves in very unfortunate circumstances. We want to keep the dignity of those in need intact.”
The WellPet donation arrived via tractor trailer. Secure Onsite Storage donated a portable storage unit to hold the food, which was on 28 pallets. That’s a lot of food to unload, so volunteers and staff, including Sherry Silk, formed a line from the trailer to the storage unit. As the group was finishing their task of stacking the food, a man pushing a cart loaded with what looked like everything he owned, including his dog, stopped just outside the chain link fence. As he watched the activity, he covered his dog from the sun with a damp towel. One of the male volunteers picked up a big bag of dog food and hoisted it over the fence to the man. No questions asked. The sudden silence from the other volunteers made the scene even more moving.
When volunteers for Pasco County's Meals on Wheels program discovered homebound clients were feeding their meals to their pets, Cindy's Pets was formed. The volunteers are now delivering around 1,000 pounds of pet food a month to those homebound seniors who participate in the Meals on Wheels program.
The following is a short list of outreach programs available through local shelters and organizations. Please contact your local shelter or animal services and ask if they have a program similar to one of these. While you’re out and about shopping, consider purchasing an extra bag or can of dog or cat food and making a delivery to your local shelter. Consider making it your New Year’s resolution, and deliver it before the end of the year. And keep it on your resolution list throughout the year to make a delivery at least one time each month.
Kibbles on Wheels, Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County, Lake Panasoffkee. http://www.hsspca.org/
Cindy's Pets, Pasco County. http://www.cindyspets.org/#!
Casper's Cupboard, Hillsborough County.
Sophie's Circle, Daytona Beach. http://www.sophiescircle.com
The Bright Paws Pet Food Bank, Melbourne. http://www.puppiesplus.net/
The Pet Project, Oakland Park. http://www.petprojectforpets.org
First Coast Pet Food Bank, Jacksonville. www.jaxpetfoodbank.org
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The New Barker is Florida's top dog lifestyle magazine, currently reaching more than 30,000 dog owners each quarter. 2012 will mark the sixth year The New Barker has been publishing. Supported by paid subscriptions and advertisers. http://www.thenewbarker.com/