The Winnipeg Humane Society is teaming up with the Bear Clan Patrol and Feed the Furbabies Canada this weekend to help ease financial strains on pet owners by handing out free cat and dog food as part of a mobile pet food bank.
Pet owners lined the block outside Bear Clan Den Saturday, including Jennifer and her daughter Jessica, who have more than five cats at home between the two of them.
“This needs to happen more often because in the stores the cat food and dog food is very very expensive,” Jennifer said.
The Winnipeg Humane Society said the high costs of living and inflation contributed to the project’s creation.
“The need is very great right now,” said Meghan Irwin, the organization’s director of behaviour and retail operations. “It’s a tough time of the year, it’s a tough economy and people are struggling with grocery bills and all the other bills that come with life in general and feeding their pets can be a worry for people so we’re here to help and support however we can.”
The organizations said they received a donation from Mars Pet Care and paired with Bear Clan Patrol to provide pet owners with more than 2,700 kg (6,100 lbs) of free food for cats and dogs.
“We’re willing to give back to the community as much as we can and I think it makes the community much stronger,” said Bear Clan Patrol executive director Kevin Walker.
In addition to helping ease financial burdens, organizers also aimed to make the food bank more accessible to community members.
“We can get it to people where they need it without any additional barriers,” Irwin said.
The event turned out to be a great success, with the Winnipeg Humane Society announcing on social media they ran out of pet food less than two hours after handing out the first bag.
The organizations say they hope to increase the program’s outreach to other parts of the city.
“We’re already looking for our West Broadway chapter to open up something like this and have it for their community as well,” Walker said.
Jennifer, who also has four guinea pigs and two hamsters, said the food bank should consider expanding the project to include food for other pets.
“They need to start thinking about small animals too when they do stuff like this because a lot of people do have small animals,” she said.
Organizers say they’re accepting donations for pets and people this season and look forward to making a ‘paw-sitive’ contribution to the community.
For those who missed out on scoring some snacks for their furry friends, more information about the Winnipeg Humane Society’s pet food bank can be found on the organization’s website.
– With files from Dan Timmerman
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