Most of us love our pets dearly and consider them to be part of the family. They provide companionship, stability and comfort, especially for those of us who live alone. The clients of Nanoose Community Services are no exception. So, it is often not an option to give up their pets, even when times are hard. Facing the difficult choice of feeding themselves nutritiously, or providing their pets with healthy food and products they may need, can add stress to people’s daily lives.
It is with that in mind that NCS partnered with Bosley’s pet store in Parksville to create the Nanoose Community Services Pet Food Support Program. Through this new program, clients of NCS who own pets receive cards monthly allowing them to purchase up to $50 worth of pet food or supplies from Bosley’s. At the end of each month, Bosley’s is reimbursed by NCS for the amount ‘spent’ by clients (from a fund provided to the charity by an anonymous donor).
“We provide anything they select at cost”, said Bosley’s co-owner Keri Smith, who along with sister and partner Brianne Carson, entered into the agreement with NCS for the program in June.
In the almost three months the program has been operating Keri estimates that close to $200 worth of pet food per month has been provided to several NCS clients.
“Not everyone uses the full $50, some purchase a large bag of dog or cat food and it doesn’t amount to that much because we charge only what we pay and don’t add any profit”, Keri added. Any unused amount stays with NCS and anything over and above the $50 is paid for by the client, she explained.
In addition, a donation bin in the store contains pet food donated by customers and the store for use by people who cannot afford to purchase it, similar to the way a food bank works. Any of these items selected by NCS clients would not apply to the $50 card maximum.
“People are so grateful for this help for their pets”, says Keri. “They don’t want to have to resort to cheap and unhealthy food or give up their pets altogether. And we are happy to know that these animals are being well cared for and getting the nutritional food they need. We are just very community minded people who love animals”.
Experts have cited research showing the value of pets in helping low-income people cope with their daily lives and get through some of the hardships they encounter. Most of these pets are well cared for, they say, sometimes even at the expense of healthy food choices for their owners.
Pets are a key factor in their ability to cope and get through some of those hardships. The pets of these people are more often than not cared for. There will be times when the person will go without food to feed their pet.”
Thanks to Bosley’s and an anonymous donor, our client’s pets (23 dogs, eight cats, and two hamsters) will be well cared for while they give comfort to their owners.
Photo: Keri Smith & Dan Nault at Bosley’s, Parksville