NHSPCA to give away pet food to those in need Sunday at Stratham shelter
STRATHAM – Hoping to ease some of the financial burdens that come with the holiday season and the hardships the pandemic has caused, the SPCA is offering a second pet food exchange where people can pick up free food for their furry best friend Sunday.
The curbside exchange runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and SPCA staff and volunteers will bring the food right out to vehicles and place it in the trunk, said Sheila Ryan, the SPCA director of marketing. She asked for anyone coming by for food to wear a mask.
“You hear on the news about more and more people becoming food insecure and it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem in our state right now,” Ryan said. “We never want people to have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pet. We don’t want a scenario where people are giving up their animal because they can’t afford to feed it.”
Ryan said a supply drive and a donation from the nonprofit Greater Good resulted in the SPCA receiving 2,000 pounds of pet food. The SPCA held a food exchange last week as well, but it wasn’t announced until last minute. She said the SPCA already donates pet food to the GATHER food bank in Portsmouth and Rockingham Community Action, which supports 12 Seacoast communities, so low income residents are able to care for and feed their animals.
“We still have a decent supply, and this is a public event for anyone to come pick up food, no questions asked,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to make it easy and accessible because we’ve been getting a lot of calls throughout the week. We want to make sure we’re reaching out to people who are not already receiving pet food through social services.”
Ryan said the food exchange would be beneficial to seniors and those on fixed incomes.
“The need for people to access pet food has gone up dramatically; the amount people are receiving from unemployment is going down and it’s the holiday season and people are already strapped,” Ryan said. “Think about an elderly person living with a cat, that cat is the only interaction they’re having right now. Our pets are our lifelines and, for me personally, I don’t know where I’d be without my dogs through this time.”
Despite the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, Ryan said the SPCA has not seen an uptick in people surrendering their pets due to the cost of feeding them. She said anyone struggling to take care of their pet because of costs or seeking low-cost spay and neutering services is welcome to contact the shelter for assistance.
“We’ve been trying to stay ahead of that,” Ryan said. “We’re making sure we’re helping people help their pets.”