Columbus Humane, other groups provide supplies for pets in need
Local animal protection organizations have stepped up to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased services to support pet owners through personal and financial hardships.
Columbus Humane expanded its community food bank and created the pet food assistance program in April when it began to see people struggling to make ends meet and feed their furry companions.
“After COVID-19 and everyone went into quarantine and a lot of people were experiencing financial impact, we didn’t see a lot of surrenders,” said Brittany Williams, the agency’s director of marketing. “What we saw was an increase in need to help keep their pets in homes.”
The program provides pickup and delivery of food, supplies and other resources.
“We hand out food bowls, toys, treats, collars, harnesses, leashes. Pretty much if anyone can ask for it, we can probably find it,” said Anna Lunsford, a humane agent with Columbus Humane.
Tina, a Groveport pet owner who asked that her last name not be used, has two dogs and began receiving help from Columbus Humane delivery volunteers in July.
“Just knowing that there’s people out there, that little stuff I’ve found helps the nastiness that’s going on right now. It really does make a huge difference,” she said.
The program does more than just support her dogs’ wellbeing, because the volunteers also care for community members in need, Tina said.
“It is not just on a professional level. They really do care; they care about if your pets are doing OK, they ask if you’re doing OK,” she said. “And sometimes that could be the only contact you’ve had for a couple of weeks, and they always stop to talk.”
Since March, Columbus Humane has fed over 9,000 pets with help from major contributions from partners such as pet supply retailers Chewy.com and PetSmart Charities, and advocacy groups such as Greater Good Charities and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Most of these contributions supply a higher ratio of dog food, which has left Columbus Humane in critical need for cat food.
Those interested can help by making a monetary donation on Columbus Humane’s website, dropping off items at its donation bin or sending supplies directly to its address at 3015 Scioto Darby Executive Court, 43026
Local animal protection organizations work together to share resources and keep pets healthy, happy and off the street. Columbus Humane partners with Gigi’s Shelter for Dogs, SAVE Ohio Pets, Sedona Grace Foundation, the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center and others.
The Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center also increased its community pet food pantry earlier in the year, spokesman Andrew Kohn said.
The shelter recently received 6,000 pounds of dog food donated by the community after experiencing a shortage. The pantry will be well-stocked for the foreseeable future, Kohn said, and now opens its doors to not just Franklin County residents but everyone in need.
“We’re not going to turn somebody away from making the decision between having to surrender their dog to us because they can’t feed them, or keeping them in the home environment,” Kohn said.
Lunsford said that though the introduction of the pet food assistance program was brought on by difficult times, her experiences the past few months have been gratifying.
“A lot of my job before COVID was sort of sitting in front of a computer and doing a lot of random things for our department, but now I have such meaningful interactions with people all of the time,” Lunsford said.
The pet food assistance program hopes to take its services to more locations in the future and work with local food banks to pass out pet food and human food.
“That’s our goal is to try to get out to more locations throughout the community so that not everyone has to find a way to get to us to pick up food.”