By Emily Drooby
Pets are a source of comfort and a cure for loneliness, but they’re also a financial stressor.
The global pandemic has cost millions of Americans their jobs. More than ever, people are turning to food pantries and other similar programs to feed their families. But for some families, there’s another mouth to feed: their animal.
Pet food can be a big expense. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that food for a cat can cost $224 annually, while food for a dog can cost up to $400 annually.
Saint Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, is trying to make sure that people can care for their pets during this difficult time by holding an ongoing drive-through pet food bank.
Emma Dolan has been helping to run it.
“Most people are running a week at a time right now,” she told Currents News. “Some people are only running a few days at a time. Just, this is unprecedented, so they’re [St. Hubert’s] just trying to think of their immediate needs and for anybody with a pet, that’s your immediate needs is that, that pet is provided for.”
The charity has been providing food to both individual families and food pantries at their New Jersey shelter location. They’re handing out the food out while remaining socially distanced and wearing the proper protective gear.
“We just didn’t want anybody to be forced to even think about surrendering their cat or their dog because they couldn’t afford to buy food,” explained Sarah Sangree, their Director of Community Engagement.
Sarah says about 19,000 pet meals have been distributed so far. They plan on continuing to hand out the food as long as they can.
St. Hubert’s is named after the patron saint of hunters, dogs and archers, and while the pet food pantry is good for pets, it’s also good for owners. A Rover.com survey says 86 percent of pet parents say spending time with their furry friends helps them alleviate stress brought on by the pandemic.
“Spending a little time to walk your dog, and it gives you a little decompression, or playing with the cat,” Emma explained, “when everything else is starting to fall apart, that’s what you go to – that unconditional love from your pet.”