Residents Go to Pet Food Bank in Tough Economic Times
The Alaska SPCA helps about 250 pets in need every month
ANCHORAGE - “Two cats, two birds and two guinea pigs,” said Ernestine* Alexie, reciting her long list of pets to a SPCA worker.
Alexie is one of about 100 people who visit the Animal Food Bank off of International Airport Road every month.
“It’s going to be a great help to get cat food, and like they said, they have bird food and guinea pig food,” said Alexie.
The Alaska SPCA helps about 250 pets in need every month.
“We usually just have dog and cat food, but right now the lady we are helping actually asked for bird and guinea pig food,” said Manager Shay Whetstone, pulling food off of the shelf. “We just happen to have it.”
The shelves are stacked high with dry food, canned food, kitty litter and an odd array of more obscure pet food.
The SPCA asks few questions and they said: they turn no one away.
The program started several years ago, but it didn’t get serious until about a year ago.
“People realize just how important this can be,” said SPCA Executive Director Maureen O’Nell. “When people are struggling, oftentimes people are going to have to relinquish their animals, and that is heartbreaking for everybody.”
The program relies heavily on broken bags of food from business like Safeway. If the bags are broken, the companies can’t sell then, so the SPCA takes them.
The food bank also counts on the kindness of strangers. O’Nell recalled a man who brings in two large bags of cat food every month. She said all the donated food goes to people in need. The food the SPCA uses to take care of its own pets is in a separate budget.
In tough economic times many people are finding it difficult to feed their pets, according to O’Nell.
“We had a young lady who just moved up here, and it was a little bit more expensive than what she had planned for. She called up and said, ‘can you help?’ We said absolutely.”
*Correction: The broadcast story mistakenly identifies Ernestine Alexie as “Ernest” – we apologize for the mistake.