Pet food bank assists families in need

Pet food bank assists families in need

Brittany McAlister loads the Southern Pines Spay and Neuter Clinic van with pet food for the pet food bank. Hunt Mercier/Printz

Brittany McAlister loads the Southern Pines Spay and Neuter Clinic van with pet food for the pet food bank.
Hunt Mercier/Printz

Many families in America are pet owners. While some of them have no issues buying what is needed for themselves and their animals, others who have a lower income often make sacrifices to make sure that their furry loved ones are well taken care of. Now, locals will have aid in taking care of animals.

Southern Pines Animal Shelter and Edwards Street Fellowship Center (ESFC) are in the midst of partnering with each other to create a pet food bank for needy families in Hattiesburg.

According to a press release, ESFC has a food bank that provides over 1,000 emergency meals for lower income individuals on a monthly basis. However, branching out to feeding animals is a new event for the organization.
Ann McCullen, executive director for EFSC, said one of the two reasons for the creation of the pet food bank is to ensure that animal owners are not going without what they need to keep their pets well-fed and healthy. The second reason is to reduce the amount of animals that are sent to shelters simply because their families can no longer afford to take care of them.

The bank is asking that men and women donate dry or canned dog, cat, puppy or kitten food to Edwards Street Fellowship Center at 1919 Edwards St. Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations can also be taken to Southern Pines Animal Shelter at 1304 Hardy St.

Research and Development Manager of Southern Pines Animal Shelter Valerie Rachal said they were inspired to build the food bank in 2013 when employees of the shelter distributed food, dog houses, food bowls and dog toys to lower income pet owners after the tornado hit in February 2013.

Rachal said families from eight counties surrounding Hattiesburg who qualify as low income according to EFSC standards and who have applied to receive emergency food for themselves will also be eligible to receive pet food for a maximum of six dogs and cats.

“It was hard to imagine how some of these families could afford to care for pets, but clearly they loved their pets and they were doing their best,” Rachal said.

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