Truckee-Tahoe Humane Society expands ‘Pet Pantry’ program
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe is expanding its “Pet Pantry” program, which helps owners keep their pets despite financial hardships or other barriers.
HSTT launched the program during the recession of 2010, offering Truckee residents free pet food and supplies to maintain their pet’s care. When the South Lake Tahoe office opened in 2019, the agency expanded the program to that area. Now, every Lake Tahoe resident is eligible.
“The top priority of this service is keeping pets and people together,” says HSTT’s Outreach Programs Manager Kara Carstensen. “We believe it is in an animal’s best interest to stay with their loving person, rather than enter the shelter system, whenever possible.”
Residents who could use some help can stop by either the Truckee shelter or the South Lake Tahoe office to pick up food and/or supplies. HSTT also partners with local social service groups in Lake Tahoe and Sierra County, to provide distribution locations, and offers food delivery services to our qualifying homebound community members in the North Lake Tahoe area.
For more information and to apply for assistance, visit http://www.hstt.org/programs-services-resources/community-pet-pantry
A bond worth saving
The pandemic has left many shelters overwhelmed, which underscores the importance of helping pet owners keep their companions. HSTT community engagement director, Erin Ellis, recalls one particular pet pantry food pickup that solidified the need for the program.
“We started this program at a time when a lot of our community was feeling the pinch of the recession. It was just an average day at the shelter,” Ellis said. “We were still operating out of the old shelter building, which was nearly impossible to find. Two young men walked up saying that they had heard about a free pet food program that we had. They told us that due to the recession and drought, they had been laid off from their seasonal ski job and were just trying to get to the next week when their unemployment check would come in. They said it was only a matter of days until that check would come through. They just needed a small bag of dog food.
“But their story wasn’t unique, a lot of our community during that time was going through the same thing,” Ellis added. “That wasn’t what resonated with me. It wasn’t until they told us that they had been giving the last little bit of food they had left in the house to their dog instead of eating it themselves. Oatmeal. All they had left was oatmeal. Their dog meant more to them than anything else, including feeding themselves; so they gave oatmeal, the last of what they had, to their dog. That moment not only reinforced my faith in humankind, but it reinforced my belief in why we run the programs we run at HSTT. Not only did we give them dog food, but we gave them resources for human-support programs as well.”
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