Local organizations rally together to feed pets in need

P.E.T. PantryNV Culture April May '16

Local organizations rally together to feed dogs and cats in need.

By Julie Carlson

If you’re a pet lover, you know a pet becomes part of the family. They’re usually our best buds. They provide laughter, joy, tears, and comfort to soothe our pain. They love us unconditionally. But what happens to a pet when someone falls on hard times? It’s difficult enough to put food on the table for an individual or family, let alone a four-legged friend.

Concerned Citizens for Community Health is a non-profit that works alongside Vista del Camino Community Center in Scottsdale to help those in need. Local organizations rally together to feed dogs and cats in need CCCH provides funds to VDC so they can give emergency food, clothing, transportation, rent assistance, prescriptions, and much more to residents.

There have been many changes throughout the years since VDC was formed in 1970, but one thing has remained constant––it has been there to prevent homelessness, to relieve economic stress, and to provide a safe and educational environment for children after school.

The city of Scottsdale is involved with most of the operation by providing the 71-acre facility, staff, social workers, and volunteers to assist individuals to get back on their feet so they can head toward a brighter future and a path to self-sufficiency.

“All of our clients have to be residents of Scottsdale,” says Danny Gallegos, recreation coordinator, who oversees the food bank, park, and operations of the building. “They have to be set up with one of our social workers. They call or come in to set up an appointment. Each person has up to four visits per calendar year to come in and get food. Of course, there’s an assessment that happens to prove they live in Scottsdale.”

Services and guidance offered at Vista del Community include: a career center, back-to-school programs, a holiday adopt-a-family program, eviction prevention and rent assistance, transportation, a hydration station and a food bank.

Non-perishable food, new toys, unopened toiletries, blankets, flash drives, and much more are available for Scottsdale residents in need. So where do pets and their own sustenance needs fall into this?

In 2001, Scottsdale Leadership, another non-profit organization that provides future leaders the tools and assistance to make a difference in their community, awarded a team of members from CCCH and the Animal Guardian Network, the opportunity to bring their month’s long project, P.E.T Pantry to fruition. AGN, located in Cave Creek, takes care of terminally ill and disabled animals. P.E.T. (Pets Eat Too) Pantry is located within Vista del Camino’s Food Bank. At this time, they provide dog and cat food only.

“There is the rare occasion we don’t have anything in stock,” explains Gallegos. “Usually we’re pretty good. It may not be a lot, but we have something.”

On average, the P.E.T. Pantry provides about 500 pounds of pet food spread evenly to about 51 families a month. The average human food boxes are around 180-250 a month.

Obviously, Vista del Camino can’t do it alone. They rely on generous financial contributions and pet food donations to keep the P.E.T. Pantry up and running. However, donations vary. Vista del Camino doesn’t receive as many pet food donations through the back door by individual donors. Most pet food donations come through events like Empty Bowls, which raises funds to fight hunger through the purchase of a beautiful hand-crafted ceramic bowl created by local artists, including a delicious meal held at Scottsdale Community College, and the annual “Paws in the Park,” a fun day of activities for you and your pet held at Chaparral Park.

Aside from the Animal Guardian Network, P.E.T. Pantry is sponsored by Choice Pet Market and Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

Vista del Camino is there to make sure you don’t feel you’re facing things alone. They understand and care how pets provide vital emotional support to owners. P.E.T. Pantry exists so pet owners aren’t met with the difficult decision of giving their furry babies away to a shelter. With their own food in their own bowls, pets can continue to remain with their beloved owners.

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