Food Banks Assisting Needy Cat Owners

Donations helping to feed pets during tough economic times.

Posted: April 13, 2009, 3 a.m. EDT

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Pet food bank
Jim Gardner, with two other volunteers, helps collect pet food for South County Outreach in Lake Forest, Calif.
Getting into financial trouble shouldn’t force pet owners to give up their animal companions, which is why Dr. Jim Gardner started collecting donated pet food for a Southern California food bank.

If people can’t afford to feed themselves, he said, then chances are they’re struggling to provide for their pets, too. So he started dropping off pet food donations at the South County Outreach food pantry in Lake Forest.

That way, the people who go seek food for themselves can also take some for their pets. “If you’re in trouble, more than ever you’re in need of a pet,” said Gardner, a licensed animal rehabilitation specialist.

Similar projects have launched across the United States to help needy pet owners. (Click here to see a state-by-state list of pet food banks.) The primary goal of these pet food drives: to help slow the number of animals entering the shelter system.

“Not that it’s a complete solution, but it would certainly help if people could feed their pets,” Gardner said. He and his wife, Anne, have been collecting pet food for the past seven months for South County Outreach.

Although the food pantry’s focus is to feed people, the demand for pet food has grown from 100 pounds a week to 500 pounds a week, Gardner said. The largest donation was one for 900 cases of dog biscuits.

Donations consist mainly of dog and cat food, as well as some bird food. On occasion, people donate checks.

Food banks that cater specifically to pets, such as the newly opened Kibble Konnection in Grand Rapids, Mich., are also working to help pet owners on tight budgets. Dog and cat food makes up for most donations, however, resources are also available to help owners of hamsters, rabbits, reptiles and even horses.

The Pet Food Bank, established in 1997, has supplied more than 50 animal rescues in Southern California and Mexico with pet food donated by manufacturers and retailers. Donations range from dog and cat kibble to food for more exotic pets.

The Meals on Wheels Association of America, which provides food delivery services for senior citizens, also runs a program for pets. We All Love Our Pets, or WALOP, was created in partnership with Banfield Charitable Trust to help low-income seniors keep their pets nourished and healthy.

Working to get pet food to owners in need ensures that the animals are able to stay with their caretakers, instead of being abandoned, Gardner said. He plans to keep his pet food drive going for the next year or two as pet owners ride out the economic downturn.

“Eventually good times will return,” he said.

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Reader Comments

Carol    Downey, CA

3/6/2014 12:44:06 PM

I am a Foster Mom for Orange County CA based cat rescue.
They are an amazing organization and I would like to find out how I can help them get donated cat food and supplies such as cat litter and new Mothers milk. Please direct me how I can go about getting them the help they not only deserve but desperately need.
Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
Thank YOU!
Carol Tillery

danielle    hanover park, IL

12/16/2011 6:05:56 PM

id keep going for it. people need all the help they can get i rescue cats from everywhere and look for donations everywhere and they are hardly ever found. we need people to do this for the animals

Sandra    Rockaway Beach, OR

11/21/2011 10:36:11 AM

Due to an injury my husband and I are in need of catfood donations. We have 7 rescues and 4 of our own, all but two young males are fixed but as soon as hubby is healed we intend to remedy that as well. We are also in need of around 30 lbs a week.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!

danielle    hanover park, IL

6/1/2011 8:58:52 PM

i am a registerd faralcat caretaker of 17. with trippl r pet, also on my own i take in strays and rescues, and adopt them out. i also have 5cats of my own. all rescues farals and mine i have gotten fixed. to stop the repopulation of unwanted cats. if you could donate some dry/wet food or kittylitter it would be highly appriceated. any brand it dosent matter. my cats total of food intake in one week is about 30-40 pounds. and i gets rough to aford that. expecaly durring the winter months. thankyou for your time
danielle maxwell

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