I came across an article in the LA Times
that was both touching and inspiring. When the operators of a Camarillo animal shelter learned that domestic animals in the area were going hungry because of economic hard times, they set out to fill a need. Every Sunday, Pet Pantry
distributes free dry food and treats for cats and dogs whose owners cannot afford to feed them. They've been doing this for about a year. Reporter Catherine Saillant describes the kibble recipients as "Older people on fixed incomes, families who are down on their luck and those who have lost jobs."
Ventura County Animal Services operates Pet Pantry, and according to the Times the number of animals in the Camarillo shelter has increased by 25 percent over the past year. Monica Nolan, animal services director, told the Times that owners are dropping off their pets because they can't afford to keep them — a heartbreaking scenario. But Pet Pantry is working to prevent that for as many families as possible, and it's making a difference. In the words of one grateful pet owner, Angela Jacquez, whose son is serving in in the military in Afghanistan, "If I had to give up my cat? ... There would be no Angie."
PETCO, grocery stores and warehouse centers generously provide the kibble, treats and toys; additionally, Pet Pantry accepts donations from any individuals or organizations that want to help ease the strain on pet owners who are struggling to make ends meet.
Another outstanding supporter of domestic animals in the Southland is Eileen Smulson, founder of Operation Blankets of Love
. After adopting her dog Ginger from a shelter in 2005, Smulson discovered how committing to an animal companion can be transformative. "I had no understanding what an animal could do to your heart and soul," Smulson told PEOPLEPets.com
. "She [Ginger] changed my life. She rescued me."
Two years ago, Smulson founded Blankets of Love, which collects bedding for shelter animals, giving them some much-needed comfort in a very stressful situation and making a huge difference in their behavior and demeanor. In those two years, OBL has collected 200,000 items (and counting!) for animal shelters, rescue organizations and foster programs. The before and after photos on OBL's website shows the positive impact a soft resting place can have for shelter dogs and cats. As Smulson says, with the blankets animals are "happier, they feel safe and secure, and those are the animals that are getting adopted." Mission accomplished.
Companion animals deserve the best we have to give, and it's heartening to know that there are so many people looking out for them in California. Does your city or state have special animal advocates? Leave a comment, and spread the word about their worthy efforts!