Fall 2010 Magazine

New Mexico Pet Food Banks

By Sunny Aris

Hungry pet?

There is no need for pets to go hungry- at least, not in New Mexico's Lincoln, Otero, or Doņa Ana counties. With record numbers of pets being abandoned due to a struggling economy, three animal welfare groups have begun food banks for pets. In the hope that a little assistance will result in the retention of family pets, Lincoln County's P.A.W., Partnership for Animal Welfare, a low-cost, spay-neuter group, provides food to food bank programs in Carrizozo, Ruidoso Downs, Ruidoso, and Capitan. Otero's "Kitty City" (No-Kill House-Cat Adoption Center) provides food to 16 church programs through the distribution center at Love Inc., in Alamogordo. In Doņa Ana County, ACTion Programs for Animals (APA) provides food at different announced locations.

"There simply is no reason, when major retailers throw out torn bags of food by the tons, that any animal should starve," explains Nancy Berg, with P.A.W. in Lincoln County.

"P.A.W. directors collect food from stores like Wal-mart in Ruidoso, the Lincoln County Mercantile in Capitan, and more. It is then re-bagged on bagging machines into a 'rescue mix' that comprises whatever we've been given or have purchased that week," Berg said. "Sometimes we have canned food, doggy bones or moist food pouches. These go into the bag, too. Then we deliver the food to the Lincoln County Food Bank, the Angus Church, or the Assembly of God Church program in Carrizozo, three times per month."

The Carrizozo program currently serves approximately 400 recipients in need of food for family members, human and four-legged. Additionally, the Methodist Church receives food from P.A.W. for its senior program, delivering food to the homes of those it serves.

In all, more than 1,000 recipients have monthly access to pet-food from P.A.W. "We don't know how many pets stay in their homes because of this help. But between that, and our low-cost spay-neuter program we know that far fewer unwanted animals are being born, and hopefully some beloved animals are being kept with their families," Berg said.

Ed Denton, director of Kitty City, the cage-free house-cat adoption center in Alamogordo, does things a bit differently. "Our volunteers come here and bag in our warehouse," explains Denton. "Then Love Inc. volunteers pick up the food and the distribution center makes sure it gets to the right place. We get calls all the time from pet lovers in need, desperate to keep their pets with their families, and not knowing where to turn. Not only are we able to help them with their pet food this way, but we also offer a low-cost spay-neuter program for these folks. We know that if they are unable to feed their families without help, pet food is also a hardship. Spaying and neutering costs are up to $300.00 or more, and this is just too much for many people. So the pets keep coming and suffering and being euthanized. We hope we are making a difference!"

Michel Meunier, an active animal-welfare advocate in Doņa Ana County, is with A.P.A., Action Programs for Animals. A.P.A.'s goals and monthly schedules are available on their website. "Our mission is to help people and their pets live better lives together. Our vision is that our programs and services will help transform our community to improve the quality of life for companion animals and greatly reduce the number of abandoned and homeless animals impounded and killed at our municipal shelter. We are located in Las Cruces, NM, but our services are offered to all those in Doņa Ana County. Recently, A.P.A. held a pet-food bank event at the local Sam's Club, with great success."

Ruidoso's Mayor Ray Alborn, president of the Lincoln County Food Bank, shared a story recently with P.A.W. volunteers, who'd come to deliver food. "Last week a senior citizen came in for her food, and when the food-bank volunteer asked her if she had any pets, the senior lady began crying. 'I shared my last Vienna sausage with my kitty last night. I gave her a little rice, and then I said, I don't know how I'm going to feed you tomorrow, honey.' When the volunteer at our food bank gave her a bag of the cat food from P.A.W., she broke into tears of relief, and went home with a little more hope than she had when she arrived."

All these organizations need year-round financial support to keep helping those in need. Long hours and sleepless nights are spent doing this work, so pets will be saved from abandonment and euthanasia during challenging times. Volunteers sacrifice time with their own pets and families, and regularly give up treasured weekends and scarce free time to help bag, collect, and distribute. "I really hope that folks who are struggling will reach out for help, before driving to the pound," concludes Berg. "The loving hearts of our pets are not disposable. And the scars to families who have to relinquish beloved pets might not be visible, but they never heal."

In Lincoln, Otero, and Dona Ana counties, due to these hard-working organizations, help for hungry pets is absolutely available.

Pet-food bank schedules are available by contacting these organizations:

P.A.W. Partnership for Animal Welfare
Please make tax-deductible donations payable to:
Community Foundation of Lincoln County/P.A.W.
P.O. Box 75
Alto, N.M. 88312

Kato Foundation/ Kitty City No-Kill House-Cat Adoption Center
Tax-deductible donations can be made securely online at kittycitynm.com
or by mailing to:
56 Danley Ranch Road
Alamogordo, N.M. 88310

ACTion Programs for Animals (APA) Donations can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 125
Las Cruces, NM 88004

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