05/18/09 — Pet food giveaway attracting a crowd

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Pet food giveaway attracting a crowd

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on May 18, 2009 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Humane Society's pet food giveaway has been a success in assisting struggling pet owners, organizers said, and they are still seeing more and more people coming to pick up food.

"We started helping 36 families. We're now helping over 100 families," said Barrett Parker, president of the WCHS.

The food giveaway currently does not require proof of need or income for pet owners to receive food, and organizers say they would rather keep it that way. But they're concerned about getting the food to the people who really need it, Ms. Parker said.

"We'd rather not do that. We'd rather people be honest with us," she said. "Come if you need the help. If you don't, there may be someone who does."

On the third Sunday of each month, the lines sometimes stretch around the corner at Carolina Mini Storage on Parkway Drive as people arrive early to claim a spot to wait.

"We don't start until 2, and we had people tell us they'd been waiting at the gate since 11:30," said Sheila Gardner, WCHS secretary. "We've been giving it all out, we empty out."

While they don't have the resources to hold the giveaway more than once a month, and try to spread the food around as far as they can, the program volunteers still strive to assist pet owners however they can.

"We're just helping them as much as we can. Maybe they buy four bags a month, and now they're only buying three," Ms. Parker said.

The program is not meant to support people who are breeding animals or others who are involved with animals to make money. It's also just for Wayne County residents, and intended to provide support for those who really need it. But they are concerned with getting the donated food to the pet bowls of dogs and cats who really need it, Ms. Parker said.

"This is a program set up for families in need. Our numbers are growing so much, we don't want to ask for personal information, but we really want to stress this is for folks who need help," she said.

They would most like to see the food going to elderly pet owners in the community, Mrs. Gardner said.

"We've heard the elderly are not buying their medicine so they can buy pet food," she said.

The giveaway also puts the volunteers face to face with families, so they can help with any other local pet owners' concerns, such as finding a way to spay or neuter their pets.

"If they're feeding two or three, they might end up with 15-20," Ms. Parker said.

The spay and neuter program accepts applications from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the adoption center. Unlike the food giveaway, applicants hoping to have their pet spayed or neutered at low to no cost are required to bring proof of income such as pay stub or unemployment or disability check stub.

The Humane Society is pushing each month to get enough food to respond to the need. Wal-Mart, Pets Supplies "Plus", Food Lion, individual donators among many other stores and individuals continue to provide food for the giveaway. But everybody is feeling the crunch, Mrs. Gardner said.

"I think we're seeing a little bit of a drop (in donations) due to the economy," she said.

They do accept open bags of food, as long as the food is still good, and will even come to pick up donations if necessary. Donators can drop off food or monetary gifts at Carolina Mini Storage on Parkway Drive Monday through Friday during normal store hours.

The Humane Society will also hold a Spirit Night at the Chick-fil-a on Berkeley Boulevard on Friday, June 5. Cards may be printed from the Humane Society Web site, at http://www.goldsboro-wchs.org. When a card is shown at time of purchase, a portion of the customer's bill will go toward the Humane Society for its fundraising. Money raised will go toward supporting the low-cost spay/neuter clinic and other society functions.

"You feel good, you really are doing something that's needed," Mrs. Gardner said.