“If you can’t afford a pet, you shouldn’t have one.” How many times have you heard this? If I’m being totally honest, it’s crossed my lips before too. Thankfully, I started PETS and I couldn’t feel more differently now.
In the beginning, when PETS was just open one day a week and we thought 15 surgeries and 20 walkins was a busy day, we would occasionally run across pet owners with malnourished pets. One of us would leave the front and run to Walmart for a bag of dog food. After one particularly heartwarming transformation, we decided we would start keeping a few bags at the clinic. As PETS grew so did the number of malnourished pets we saw. Let me be very clear. These pets were under nourished not under loved. Many pet owners were feeding their pets daily and couldn’t understand why the pet was still so thin and always hungry. Sadly, the quality of food they could usually afford was not quality at all. Some brands of food have almost no nourishment. Old Roy and Dollar store brands are notoriously bad quality pet food.
“Well, if they can’t afford decent food, they shouldn’t have the pet.” Let’s stop for a minute and think about the gifts pets give. They are not just a mouth to feed but in some cases, a reason for living. The most generous people I have ever met, have the least to give. Our Pantry clients don’t go and purposely seek a new pet and an extra mouth to feed. They felt sorry for a neighborhood stray and decided to share their very limited resources with a helpless animal. Isn’s this the very definition of kindness? For many of our clients, these pets are all they have. Their pets provide comfort, companionship, and unconditional love. Should an income bracket dictate whether someone deserves these things?
We began to hear from some of our volunteers that also deliver Meals on Wheels, about pet owners sharing their daily meal with their pet. We decided it was time to create PETS Pantry. In 2010, the Pantry was born and it has grown leaps and bounds ever since. In 2015, we served approximately 150 pets per month. We strive to provide between 25-50% of a pets monthy suggested nutrition. This means the pets we help are getting at least 25% quality food and everyone is better for it.
PETS Pantry cost approximately $500 each month and that total will continue to rise. We are able to keep the cost fairly low because of pet food donations from the public and purchasing pet food in bulk. This year we are blessed to have the support of The Banfield Charitable Trust and The Doris Day Animal Foundation. Like all of our programs, we fundraise and write grants to keep them going. This is never easy and we have to stretch our resources as far as possible.
Some of the things we do, can’t be seen. We do not see the unwanted litters we are preventing. The success of PETS Pantry, however, is tangible. We get to watch a skinny, malnourished, weak pet used to surving on instant mashed potatoes transform into a healthy, shiny coat, happy dog with no ribs showing. The pet owners couldn’t be more gracious and we couldn’t be happier to help. The pet owners provide shelter, attention, and love to an otherwise unwanted pet. All we do is help with food and that is one less animal suffering, one less pet turned in because of lack of resources. One more life saved.
If you would like to donate to our Pantry, we take donations of cat and dog food, wet and dry. Quality dog food appreciated and money designated for the Pantry will go towards our monthly purchase. Together, we make Wichita Falls a better place for pets and pet owners.