For people stretched thin in a slumping economy, it can be hard enough to put food on the table, much less feed a pet.
One woman and a cadre of volunteers want to help these people and lift the strain of feeding their beloved dogs and cats by offering them a little help over the next two weekends — or until the food runs out.
Jeannie Duckworth, founder of the Lucky Paws Foundation, a nonprofit animal rescue group, and owner of Decadent Pets pet grooming will give anyone who shows proof of being needy — such as a welfare card or unemployment receipt — at least a week’s supply of dog or cat food.
Duckworth’s animal humanitarian efforts in years past include the opening of a cooling center last summer to help people and pets without air conditioning and the year before a pet parade to raise money for the Tracy Animal Shelter.
Duckworth borrowed the concept from a woman in Germany who set up a soup kitchen for pets. Just last week, seven people called her looking for new homes for their pets because they can’t afford to care for them.
“This is the first time the economy has actually affected people’s pets,” she said. “If it’s between putting food on the table for your kids or feeding your pets, you’re going to choose your kids.”
Community support for Duckworth’s idea has been more than she expected she said. In only a week, she’s received more than 70 40-pound bags of dog and cat food. On Tuesday alone, someone left a full pallet — more than a ton — of dog and cat food behind Decadent Pets, and concerned community members have donated food and money.
Duckworth asks people who wish to receive the food to bring proof of their pets’ shot records, at the request of the Tracy Animal Shelters, but it is not required.
She will also give severely matted dogs free groomings during the food bank hours but requests this service be limited to one dog per owner.
She is still looking for volunteers and needs large re-sealable bags and garbage bins to disperse and store the food. And of course, if anyone wishes to donate cat or dog food, Duckworth will keep giving out food as long as there is food to give.
“If we could get this going nationwide,” she said, “that would be great — at least until the economy gets better to help save our pets.”
• Contact Aaron Rognstad at 830-4221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Pet food bank
WHERE: Decadent Pets, 2302 East St.
WHEN: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 24