Some people feed their pets before they feed themselves
Lower Cape Outreach among area leaders in feeding needy people and pets
By Walter Brooks
Like most readers I am aware of the good work local charities like the Lower Cape Outreach Council do for needy people.
But are you also aware of what they do for the needy pets of Cape Cod?
My attention was arrested by an article in the March 19, 2010, edition of The New York Times.
The story began:
The exploding demand among the needy for food banks is rapidly expanding to desperate pet owners who can no longer afford to feed their animals, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Animal shelters around the country are being flooded with hungry pets, and to tackle the problem, charitable organizations are setting up pet food banks, with products offered within regular food pantries.
"One of our goals is to keep pets in their homes if we can," said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, a nonprofit that works to find ways of limiting the number of animals in New York City that are euthanized. "It's heartbreaking when an animal has to go to a shelter simply because its family doesn't have the money to feed it."
She compared it to City Harvest, a nonprofit group in New York that distributes excess food from the city's restaurants to the needy...
So what about Cape Cod needy pets?
I called the local manager of the national pet store mentioned in the article who said her Cape store had no plans as of yet to set up a food pantry for pets here, and then turned to my own web company's website Cape Cod Pets and called a mom & pop store here.
"Yes there IS a Food Pantry for Pets on Cape Cod."
- Katrina Boucher
Eastham's Cape Cod Dog's owner, Katrina Boucher, answered the phone, and said, "Yes there IS a Food Pantry for Pets on Cape Cod", and explained that a couple years ago when the present recession looked bad, she realized that if people were needy, so were the Cape's pets.
Katrina contacted the Lower Cape Outreach Council which reacted immediately having already become aware of the problem since their clients who were on food stamps were not allowed to use them for pet food.
The Council has eight food pantries in every town from Harwich to Provincetown and has food for needy pets available in them all. Larry Marsland, LCOC Executive Director, told me that in the past two years they have seen the need for food grow from 30% to 40% in these pantries.
Lower Cape gave out over $400,000 in food for the needy last year alone
Marsland said, "Many of our clients receive federal food assistance and our pantries serve to supplement their needs. Other clients are seniors on fixed incomes and working folks who simply cannot make ends meet. Last year, we gave out over $400,000 worth of food on the Lower Cape."
The federal food assistance has parameters, one of which is no pet food because, Larry Marsland assumes, pets are considered a luxury.
He said, "some of their volunteers made arrangements with Agway in Dennis. The store has a bin for pet food donations and the public has been extraordinarily generous. He said LCOC is now also collecting pet food donations from the Agways in Orleans, Chatham and Sandwich as well.
Marsland called special attention to Joshua Wile, Regional Agway Manager, who has been very generous to the Cape outreach organization.
The Upper Cape has its own pet food pantry, For the Love of a Pet, in Marstons Mills, which Donna Kutil of the Sandwich Agway helped establish.
In addition to this pet food project, Mr. Wile is also facilitating the creation of a Council Garden this summer in South Orleans. With Agway's help the Lower Cape Outreach Council will be offering its clients plots of land for growing their own fresh produce and Mr. Wile is donating fencing, seeds and fertilizers. "He is a great guy," Larry added.
Need is growing, contribution desperately needed
Marsland went on to say, "We are struggling to keep enough food in all of our pantries in order to keep pace with the need. I read that the national mood is in a downturn and that folks are tired of this economy and the sad stories it produces. But the reality is that people are hungry and food is a need that reappears every day."
"For pets, too," he added. "Many of us know the important emotional and psychological role a pet can play in a human's life. So, rather than think of pets as a luxury, we think of them as a source of comfort and companionship that is available to everyone, regardless of their economic circumstance."
The LCOC will gladly and thankfully accept donations of people food and pet food at their headquarters in Orleans at 19 Brewster Cross Road. The hours are 9:30am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday. Anyone who wishes to can call Larry Marsland, Executive Director, directly during those hours. His telephone number is (508) 240-1490.