Whether by increasing their cuddle duties for their work-from-home owners or becoming the newest member of a quarantined household, pets have certainly played a large role during the COVID-19 pandemic. But not every household is filled with treats—or even enough basic food—to thank them properly for their snuggly services. Companion Animal Alliance opened up its Pet Food Pantry with one mission in mind: to ensure that our furry friends get all of their needs met.
“The shelter started the Pet Food Pantry at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when we noticed the dire need as community members faced financial challenges from loss of income and employment,” says CAA philanthropy director Emily Jackson, who helps oversee the pantry at the shelter’s 2550 Gourrier Ave. location. “We did not want pet owners to have to make the difficult decision to part with their pets simply due to the inability to purchase food.”
In an era where shelters are seeing some of the highest rates of returned animals ever, ensuring these basic needs are met has never been more necessary—not just for the families hoping to hold onto their pets, but for the shelters and fosters who don’t always have enough resources to maintain soaring intake numbers.
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“Keeping pets with their families is a major pillar of our mission, and we strive to find creative ways of doing so, no matter the family’s particular needs or circumstances,” says Jackson. “The goal of our Pet Food Pantry is to help those East Baton Rouge Parish residents in need of pet food and basic supplies. This is important to our shelter for a variety of reasons, but one major reason is because preventing high intake improves our staff’s ability to care for the lost, abandoned and abused animals, and, ultimately, save more lives.”
So how does it work? EBR Parish residents in need of pet food or other necessities for their cats or dogs can fill out an online request form at caabr.org/foodpantry. Since food and supplies are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, request forms are limited to one per month, though Jackson says she hopes that the pantry program will one day grow to be able to accept every request. Still, donations are always welcome to be dropped off at the shelter’s front desk any day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., as long as donated food or treats are unopened and not expired.
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“So far, we have assisted more than 100 families, some of whom have requested food monthly and heavily rely on this program to care for their pets while temporarily unemployed or facing other economic challenges,” says Jackson. “We have felt very fortunate to assist families in need throughout COVID-19 and plan to continue the program in a post-pandemic world. We believe that the more EBR residents become aware that we accept single bags of pet food, cat litter, kennels, and other basic supplies like collars and leashes, we can ensure that more pets stay with their families, never having to enter the shelter system.”
Also assisting CAA in finding animals homes this month: a partnership with Subaru, which is hosting a month-long adoption event all October long in hopes of finding even the hardest-to-adopt dogs (aka the old, deaf or blind) a place to rest their weary paws. Subaru will donate $100 to CAA for each pet adopted this month.
For more information on this, the pantry and other services, visit caabr.org.