Islander launches pilot program to feed pets

Cheryl Pruett, right, with pet food donated for the “No Hungry Pets on Vashon” program. (Courtesy Photo)

Cheryl Pruett, right, with pet food donated for the “No Hungry Pets on Vashon” program. (Courtesy Photo)

Islander Kay Farris, a veterinary technician, said animals have always been a meaningful part of her life.

“I’ve really developed an interest in finding homes for pets and making sure they can stay in their homes,” she said.

Understanding that sometimes pets and their people need a little relief, she launched the “No Hungry Pets on Vashon” program through Vashon Island Pet Protectors (VIPP) to provide clients of the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank with donated pet food.

“I wanted it to be something that was more widely available to people who are already in a little bit of crisis as far as needing help with their [own] food,” said Farris, who spent hours conducting interviews with food bank clients for a sense of the program’s need in the community.

Since Farris proposed the program in August, more than 4,000 pounds of donated pet food has been collected for food bank clients who struggle with the cost of feeding their animals, thanks to Cheryl Pruett, owner of Pandora’s Box and a partner of the program.

“I used my resources with my wholesale warehouses because they have large amounts of food where the bags are damaged sometimes by forklifts or they have returns from other stores,” she said. “That food needs to go somewhere.”

VIPP has offered assistance for the purchase of pet food by authorizing purchases at Pandora’s Box, but that program has not met the demand. The food bank is unable to purchase pet food directly but does provide what is donated to the agency, support that Farris noted had a tremendous appreciation.

Thanks to the No Hungry Pets program, donated pet food obtained by Pruett will go to the food bank, which has the means to store and distribute it to clients in need.

Now, Pruett said, everyone who needs help can get it. The next step is to secure fundraising, which would serve to administer the program.

“What we’re hoping to do is to help people with enough food for two to four weeks,” said Pruett.

Pandora’s Box, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in business recently, has hosted sales to benefit the program, resulting in collections and additional bags of pet food for the food bank. But greater support, she said, will be necessary to sustain their goal of improving the lives of island pets and their owners, ensuring none of them will have to go without.

“It does seem kind of like classic Vashon in the sense of [having] wonderful community spirit, and the way that people who have passion make things happen,” said Robbie Rohr, executive director of the food bank. “For some people, we know that having pets is a really important part of their life, and to not be able to buy food for a pet is a really terrible thing.”

To support No Hungry Pets on Vashon, make a donation to VIPP specifically earmarked for the program; you can also purchase a gift certificate for the program at Pandora’s Box. Donate leftover pet food to the VIPP shelter, the food bank or in the VIPP box outside Thriftway.

— Paul Rowley

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