One Simple Step To Help Your Neighbors Keep Their Pets

Help keep kittens like this one in their homes by donating to pet food drivesFor those of us in animal rescue, it is hard to imagine a life situation that would push us to make the decision to give up a pet. Likewise, most of us have little patience for those who do make that decision. The fact is, however, that many people are currently facing such difficult economic circumstances that they are hard pressed to afford to feed their pets. In many cases they are just a bag of dog food away from deciding that they can no longer afford to keep an animal around the house, if they still have a house.

Considering the choices some families face...feeding the kids, bus fare to work, a doctors visit or making rent when you are out of work with three children, a dog and a becomes easier to understand how deciding to surrender a pet might begin to make sense. I know that some of the comments in response to this blog will range from incredulity to outrage but we need to be real. Stuff happens and we, the animal advocates of the wider community, need to come up with programs and strategies to make sure that people never have to make such an ‘either’ ‘or’ choice.

Hat’s off, then, to PETCO and the PETCO Foundation for stepping up to thePETCO and Best Friends food drive at all PETCO store locations plate with America’s first National Pet Food Drive and I’m happy to say that Best Friends is partnering with them as part of our First Home Forever Home campaign. Thanks to Best Friends field teams across the country, 300 volunteers at 198 PETCO locations around the country are supporting the drive that runs from November 5 through this weekend of  November 14. Click here for the PETCO store locator.

PETCO launched the drive in March starting with about 250 stores in select markets. Today, all of PETCO’s more than 1,000 stores have designated pet food bins in place for year-round collection. With the help of Ellen Gilmore, Best Friends' First Home Forever Home campaign manager, each store has been partnered with a local food bank or animal welfare group to donate pet food and litter directly to economically stressed pet owners in that store’s community. Over110 tons of pet food and cat litter has already made its way to those in need. Lending their support, Hill's Science Diet has committed to match bag-for-bag, every bag of Hill’s cat or dog food purchased at a PETCO store and donated to the food drive, up to 25,000 pounds. Way to go Hills!

All of this overlaps nicely with Best Friends First Home Forever HomePet food drives help keep families together with their pets like this sweet black dog campaign that was launched, coincidentally enough, at the beginning of the economic downturn. Our early research indicated that financial hardship was one of the key contributing factors leading to a family’s decision to surrender a pet to a local shelter and things have only gotten harder since then. Pet food drives and distribution through food banks has been one of the central strategies of our campaign, which also provided aid in the form of pet food to Gulf Coast residents who found themselves on the financial rocks as a result of the BP oil spill.

It’s easy to help someone in your community hang onto their pet and keep their family together. Just go to your local PETCO this weekend and buy a bag of food for the drive!

Please do what you can to help this important effort and if you see a volunteer from Best Friends helping out at the store, tell them Francis sent you.

If you want to start a food drive in your community through local grocers, click here for the Four Legged Food Drive action kit!

Francis Battista