Petland Charities and the Athens County Food pantry are excited to announce their partnership to provide dog food for families in need.
The program, which begins this month, will provide $10,000 in Petland's private label Heartland Naturals dog food in monthly deliveries to the food pantry, where it will be given to families in need with pets. Beginning January 24, Petland will deliver 55 12 lb. bags of food a month for the next six months. The initial delivery will also include 6 cases of canned cat food. After six months, Petland and the Food Pantry will discuss the program and evaluate the ongoing need.
Athens County Food Pantry President Karin Bright is excited by the opportunity Petland has provided. "Our board has been aware of the need for pet food. Our clients have asked about such availability over the years but have not been able to provide that assistance due to financial constraints. We are thrilled to be able to help low-income families feed their pets."
The Athens County Food Pantry came under the spotlight in mid-December when Athens native and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was awarded the Heisman trophy. During his acceptance speech, Burrow shed light on the need in his hometown.
"Coming from Southeast Ohio, it's a very impoverished area," Burrow said. "The poverty rate is almost two times the national average, and there's so many people there that don't have a lot…I'm up here for all those kids in Athens and in Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school," he continued. "And you guys can be up here too."
That emotional speech prompted an Athens resident, Will Drabold, to begin a fundraising campaign for the Athens County Food Pantry. In about a month, the online fundraiser has raised more than $500,000.
Petland then reached out to Bright to determine how Petland could help support their efforts.
"We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Athens County Food Pantry. We have a lot of colleagues, friends, families and customers in Athens and we are excited to be able to help make a small difference in addressing the hunger needs of the county," said Petland Charities Executive Director Steve Huggins.
Petland Charities is a 501c3 that provides support to local shelters. In January of 2019, Petland Charities began a feeding program for the Ross County Humane Society and to date, has donated more than $18,500 in dog food. In addition to the food donation contract, for every dog adopted at Ross County Humane Society Petland Charities provides a free bag of Heartland Naturals food in addition to a $50 gift card to help the adopter purchase necessary supplies for their newly adopted furry friend. This year, Petland Charities also began the giftcard program with Licking County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center. Since March of 2016, Petland has redeemed more than $76,000 in gift cards from RCHS adopters.
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.