Marking the serving of one million meals to pets in need, VCA Charities and Hill’s Pet Nutrition celebrated the major milestone in their five-year partnership at the St. Joseph’s Center in Venice, California, USA, where the pet food assistance partnership began in 2010.

The partnership with Hill’s helps support the VCA Pet Food Pantry program, initiated by VCA Charities five years ago to provide pet food to pet parents stricken by the economic downturn. At that time, an increasing number of pets were being taken to animal hospitals for euthanasia or abandoned when their owners could no longer bear the cost of caring for them.

Since that time, the VCA Pet Food Pantry program has expanded to more than 20 locations throughout the United States and Canada, providing free pet food to clients of existing food pantries.

“We started the Pet Food Pantry program to provide healthy, nutritious pet food to families who could not otherwise afford it in the local communities we serve,” said Art Antin, chief operating officer for VCA Animal Hospitals. “By providing these one million free meals, we have helped many families in need hold on to the loving and comforting bond their pets provide.”

St. Joseph Center’s Executive Director Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum said: “The Food Pantry is the primary gateway to St. Joseph Center's efforts to help working poor families achieve and maintain stability as they make their way toward lasting self-sufficiency. With the VCA Pet Food Pantry on-site, our families don’t have the additional burden of worrying how they will be able to feed their companion animals.”

Working with VCA Charities, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the maker of the Science Diet, Prescription Diet and Ideal Balance brands, currently donates premium pet food to more than half of the VCA Pet Food Pantries across the US, and has made a commitment to expand the current partnership by supporting additional pet food pantries with pet food donations over the next few years.

“Our mission at Hill’s is to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets,” said Kostas Kontopanos, president of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, North America. “We want to help transform lives, and this partnership with VCA Charities allows us to do that by keeping a pet with its family during a time of need when its unconditional love is most needed.”

In furthering its mission, Hill’s has a long-standing history of helping pets in need through its Food, Shelter & Love program, which has donated more than $280 million worth of Hill’s Science Diet brand foods to more than 1,000 shelters in the U.S.

Hill’s also comes to the aid of communities impacted by disaster. In the past two years, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network has delivered free pet food to 60 shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 25 major incidents to feed displaced pets.

VCA Charities continues to support programs, organizations, and causes that promote pet healthcare education, proactive veterinary care, proper pet nutrition, and prevention of cruelty to animals. In furthering its mission, VCA Charities partners with the American Red Cross in their Disaster Relief Network, and provides free exams, boarding, and vaccinations for pets displaced or injured during a disaster or emergency.