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New pet food pantry to help animal owners

Family pets are often the first to go hungry when families suffer economic hardships, but a new pet food pantry might help struggling pet owners and rescue organizations keep their dogs and cats fed, its founders said.

The idea for the pantry was introduced by Wittenberg student Rebekah Hart and picked up by humane society volunteer Don Myers, who approached the Second Harvest Food Bank about using some of the organization’s storage space for the project. Keith Williamson, regional director of Catholic Charities and the Second Harvest Food Bank, said he sees a need for the service in the community.

“We know people are struggling to feed themselves, but a lot of people have pets nowadays,” said Williamson. “People always ask us if we have pet food, because they have pets they don’t have food for because of the high cost.”

The Pet Pantry became a nonprofit in July, and Myers hopes to raise about $2,500 for start-up expenses in the next several months.

The Pet Pantry’s “Spay-getti Dinner” fund-raiser will be held at Mic’s Restaurant on Ohio 4 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Aug. 25. Tickets cost $7 for pre-sale and $8 at the door. The nonprofit will also host a Bowl-A-Thon at Shamrock Lanes on Nov. 3. Those interested in purchasing tickets can contact Myers at (937) 925-2274.

Myers has contacted seven pet food manufacturers for donations and said a local trucking company has agreed to transport pallets of pet food to the pantry. He envisions eventually providing more than food, and hopes to offer low-cost spaying and neutering to reduce the number of strays in the area.

James Straley, executive director of the Clark County Humane Society, said he encourages people who find themselves financially incapable of caring for a pet to seek help from the organization. Feeding a pet only human food can be unhealthy for the animal, he said.

“With the economy the way it is, some people can’t afford to feed their animals or they’re feeding them scraps,” Straley said. “This might be a good way to keep them on their feet or give them a helping hand if they need it.”