Many people consider their pets part of the family, but Oklahoma City’s animal advocates are worried about what happens when finances are tight and the choice is to feed the kids or feed the dog. Their solution: a pet food bank. Just like traditional food banks, the project will rely on donated food and will serve those who otherwise might be unable to afford to buy pet food on their own. Ben Brown, a volunteer with the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, is leading the project. "The shelter gets two or three calls a day from people asking where they can get some help,” Brown said. "There are senior citizens and disabled people who are on a limited income. There are families who have pets, and the husband lost his job, and now they are trying to take care of pets just on one salary, and they’re struggling.” The pet food bank is part of a larger effort to reduce the number of adoptable animals euthanized at metro-area animal shelters. Christy Counts, president of the Central Oklahoma Humane Society and vice president of the Metro Alliance for Animal Life, said there are programs to help low-income families with spaying and neutering, but there was no way to help struggling pet owners feed their animals. "Our No. 1 priority is keeping pets out of the shelter,” Counts said. "We certainly want to counteract anyone who might be turning their pets into the shelter because they can’t afford to feed them.” Donation spots are already available at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, the Bethany Animal Shelter and the Weed and Seed Community Centers. Other donation barrels will be placed at local businesses. Brown said he’s already responding to requests for help, and he encouraged those who truly need assistance to call. No one wants to see pets become a casualty of the recession, he said. "We think this idea will grow,” Brown said. "It’s one more arrow in the quiver of an effort to eliminate the need to euthanize pets.”
How to help
Unopened cans or bags of pet food can be donated at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, the Bethany Animal Shelter and Oklahoma City Weed and Seed Community Centers. More donation spots will be set up at local businesses. Money can also be donated by sending checks to the PAW Pet Food Bank, 2811 SE 29, Oklahoma City, OK 73129. How to get help
Those who need assistance to feed their pets can call Ben Brown at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, 316-3663 or e-mail email@example.com.