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Program Aims to Reduce Abandonments with Free Pet Food and Care | State and Area News

By ANNETTE AYRES, News & Record

GREENSBORO, NC (AP) — Help is on the way for Guilford County residents struggling with the rising costs of feeding and caring for their pets.

Guilford County Animal Services recently created the Mobile Pet Assistance Center to help reduce the number of dogs and cats that are abandoned because their owners can’t afford the food, according to Stephen Carlson, the department’s community engagement manager. .

The need in Guilford County for this kind of assistance is huge, Carlson said.

“Nobody is anticipating these skyrocketing prices,” Carlson said. “It’s really hard to make ends meet. We want pets and their owners to stay together. It’s important to us.

Carlson said about 75% of pets currently abandoned are attributed to financial hardship: evictions, inability to afford food, and inability to pay apartment deposits and monthly pet fees.

To receive assistance from MPAC, pet owners do not have to provide documentation proving their financial hardship.

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“We don’t ask questions. However, we are limiting our attendance to a maximum of four animals per home,” Carlson said. “We tell people that we are here to help and support, but we are not here to fully feed all of their animals. We need to be able to help as many pet owners as possible and expand that food.

MPAC is a countywide extension of Animal Services’ pantry program, which operates at 710 Huffine Mill Road in Greensboro and distributes food once a month.

Demand kept growing at the pantry.

“We also received calls from all over the county to see if we were moving to other areas. A lot of people just couldn’t afford gas to drive here,” Carlson said of the decision to go mobile.

MPAC hopes to have one event scheduled during the week and another on Saturday, he said. Carlson said they are working with local parks and recreation departments, rural fire departments and other areas of the county to schedule distribution dates.

The MPAC team distributes between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds of food and supplies each week, he said, in addition to providing several hundred vaccines and microchipping vouchers.

Volunteer Debbie Miller said she enjoys working with Carlson and the team to help people keep their pets healthy and safe.

“It can make a huge difference,” Miller said. “I remember one woman telling me, ‘I can keep my animals now – I had nothing to feed them.'”

Miller credits Carlson with continuing to develop the program. It is supported by corporate and community donations.

“Our biggest donor is online retailer Chewy. They send a tractor-trailer full of food and supplies when we need them,” Carlson said. “All Pets Considered donates food and supplies to us. They are a big supporter of Guilford County Animal Services. The audience is so generous too.

Donations of unopened dog and cat food are accepted during business hours at the Resource Center, 980 Guilford College Road in Greensboro.

“If someone or a business has a large donation of food and supplies, we’re happy to collect it,” Carlson said. “We also accept leashes, collars, bowls and toys. And neatly used (and clean) blankets and beds.

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