A local Waynedale agency that helps care for pets and owner needs recently got a huge boost from a generous corporate sponsor.
Thanks to the pet-product website, Chewy.com, Humane Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry recently received more than 1,000 bags of pet food that it will be able to give to local pets and pet owners who may not be able to afford the rising costs of feeding animals.
“Our need has just increased so much,” said Rochelle Watson, Humane Fort Wayne’s program coordinator. “So, the food had to come from a larger organization.”
Previously, the pantry has gotten most of its pet-food inventory from individual or company donations.
Watson said the recent economic downturn coupled with the difficulty of navigating the COVID pandemic has sent local pet owners’ food needs skyrocketing.
“We’ve gone from serving 120 pet owners to about 800 pet owners,” she said. “In 2020, we were serving about 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of pet food a MONTH. Now, it’s closer to 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of pet food a WEEK.”
Enters Chewy, a huge national website that sells pet food, prescriptions, toys, and other animal-related products. Watson said her group was fortunate to be in Chewy’s vision for help.
“Chewy works with the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) to coordinate donations and resources from programs like ours. We have a great relationship with our Indiana representative, Sam Morton, and because of the volume of clients we have and our ability to serve them, we were in a position to be on their radar for assistance.”
So recently, Chewy sent a huge donation of cat food, dog food, and other pet products to the agency. “We received approximately 1,200 bags of pet food, divided between about 20 pallets, unloaded by hand.” Watson said it took about eight volunteers roughly 20 man-hours to help unload and store all the donated chow.
In addition to all the bags of food, Chewy also gifted another 5,000 pounds of cat litter, and numerous puppy pads.
Thankfully, Humane Fort Wayne hopes they’ll be able to work with Chewy in the future, as well.
“Because of our record year in 2021, we are on the map for pet retention services, nationally, and HSUS trusts us to get the resources out to the community and Allen County service area, we do now have an evolving opportunity to receive large donations like this as the products become available through Chewy.”
Watson said the Chewy donation will help feed hundreds of local animals. “Because we always receive more dog food than cat food donations, this will feed close to 3,000 dogs, and about 1,000 cats.”
Started in 2010, the Pet Food Pantry states its mission as “providing no-cost pet food to neighbors in need in our community.” It’s located at 2502 Church Street in Waynedale.
Watson said the gift from Chewy will benefit not just hungry pets, but their struggling owners, as well.
“Having the ability to serve everyone coming to us for assistance makes the volunteers feel good, the pets have full bellies, and the pet owners know they can trust us as a reliable source. When we can look at stocked shelves, we know we can be helpful for another week,” shared, Watson.
Ultimately, Watson notes, the whole objective is to keep pets in their forever homes, right where they belong.
“Large donations like this one are basically an insurance policy for service. While pet food assistance doesn’t solve every financial hurdle, it does allow for most of our clients to keep their pets at home with their families,” Watson passionately said.
Learn more at humanefw.org/programs/pet-food-pantry