- Written by Paula Pierce
What do you do if you lose your job, and suddenly you realize that you cannot buy food for your dog or cat anymore? How about the retirees on fixed income, who see everything going up until their four-legged friend, sometimes their only companion, becomes a luxury they cannot afford?
Almost always the answer is the shelter, a heart wrenching prospect for both owners and pets – and that, in the best case scenario, when the pet finds another family willing to take it in.
In Windsor, pet owners in need have a much better option: they can call the Pet Food Pantry, that the Friends of Windsor Animal Care and Control started two weeks ago.
“We formed in January to bring awareness to the citizens in Windsor that we needed the dog pound to stay in Windsor, and thankfully the town council members understood that,” said this week Debbie Samson, one of the group's founders. “And then, in the process of doing that, we discovered that there was this big need for food, and so we, kind of, took a little different turn and we started the pet pantry.”
The group knows well how difficult times are. Diane Logan, the other found of the Friends, has been out of work since January.
“I, luckily I don't have a problem feeding my pets,” she says, “but I understand exactly how people feel.”
The project is already a success. Not a month in existence, and there are already seventeen families around town that depend on the service, Sanson says. And it's absolutely confidential, she stresses. The food is delivered right to the clients' home, by someone of the group – usually by either Samson, or Logan.
“This was something that was desperately needed in town,” says Animal Control Officer Brian Davis. “I was helping a few families out, but I feel that families are probably afraid to call maybe because of the law enforcement side. This is just an opportunity to reach out for help and not feel like somebody is going to take their dog - which we are not there for. We are there to help people, help families and it shows. Just after the first week, they [the pet food pantry] were up and running. Families were calling, a lot more than before, so I knew there were families that needed help. They are doing a great job.”
What is really encouraging, Samson points out is how supportive everyone in town has been for the needs of pets. Starting from the town council, that approved $400,000 to build a new dog pound, to WPD Chief Kevin Searles, who has always been approachable, to officer Brian Davis, with whom the group cooperates on a constant basis, everybody has helped. The group helped also State Representative David Baram, who stood with them last week during their first food drive at Stop & Shop. And a number of Windsor businesses have also promised their help, among the PetSupply, Geissler's, and even Dom's that will hold a benefit dinner on their behalf on August 12.
“We hoped that by opening the pets food pantry, we will be able to help people keep their pets rather than surrender them,” Samson says. “We are doing it. And anyone who needs help can call us at (860) 249-9463. We have deliveries on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and all calls are returned by Diane within 24 hours. They just have to state their name, their address and whether they have dog, cats, how many, and we will put them on our list.”
Windsorites who need more information on the program can email JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text54190); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING or they can go to the group's website at www.friendsofwindsoranimal.com