N.C. food bank works to keep pets from going hungry

By isak, April 1, 2009

Pet food banks are needing help, too. So maybe we can Obama to look into the price of pet food, huh? The price is just going up and up.

By Steve Lyttle – McClatchy Newspapers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Peggy Cole of Charlotte, N.C., went to the Pet Food Bank last week because she couldn’t afford to buy food for her two dogs and a cat. “They were out of pet food, because the demand was so great,” Cox said.

She’s among the growing number of pet-owners being squeezed by the economy.

Officials at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police’s Animal Care and Control and Second Harvest Food Bank said Tuesday they hope to begin providing relief next week. Groups are setting up barrels to solicit donations of pet food, which will be distributed by food banks that Second Harvest serves. The program is scheduled to begin Monday.

“Some people are losing their homes,” said Melissa Knicely, of the animal control agency. “They cannot afford pet food. Our goal is to help keep animals with their owners.”

The alternative: people either turn in their pets at the animal shelter, or turn them loose. “That is not what we want,” Knicely said.

Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank and owner of two cats, said her agency is eager to help. “We think all animals should be happy,” Carter said, “just like we think all people should be happy.”

The program has been conducted on a small scale for a couple of months, but organizers are going to the public, asking for donations so they can increase the amount of pet food available.

Knicely said Mecklenburg, N.C., residents surrendered 4,589 pets between July 2007 and June 2008. She said that at the current pace, the number of pets turned in at the animal shelter between July 2008 and June 2009 will be more than 5,100.

“People aren’t making what they used to make in this economy, and pet food is getting more expensive,” said Cole, whose two grown daughters also have pets at home. Last week, she came home from the Pet Food Bank with another cat after a woman gave it up.

At this time in Lexington, God’s Pantry, which collects and distributes donated food to people in Central and Eastern Kentucky, does not offer a pet food bank. And the Lexington Humane Society accepts donations for the shelter only. Go to www.adoptlove.net for the donation’s wish list.

Herald-Leader staff writer Harriett Hendren contributed to this report.

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