TAMPA, Fla. – Shelters are over-flowing with surrendered pets, because their owners simply can’t afford rising vet and pet food costs. A Tampa Bay Area church, though, is taking steps to help keep dogs and cats in their forever homes by eliminating the burden of rising pet food costs.
Pound-by-pound, Kit Ingalls, St. Clement’s Episcopal Church’s Pet Food Pantry coordinator, is helping keep families together.
“This church loves animals and loves God’s creation,” Ingalls said.
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Like 3-year-old Humphrey – a Doberman – Father Andrew Heyes rescued from a scrapyard in January.
“I can just look into their eyes, and I see a lot of me and my own hope and fear and redemption being reflected back,” St Clement’s Episcopal Church’s Rector Andrew Heyes said.
A local church is helping pets stay with their owners.
It’s why in December, the Tampa church began a pet food pantry, handing out dog and cat food to families in need every third Saturday of the month.
“Some people are just right at the edge of having to surrender their animals, and then they hear about this, and it gives them a glimmer of hope,” Heyes said.
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According to veternarians.org, the price of dog food has increased by more than 45% since 2020.
“I’m just so grateful. I’m just so grateful that we can do it. I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people who participate in it,” Ingalls said.
On average Ingalls says they help between 35 and 40 families and try their best to give each one at least a month’s worth of food. Since they began in December, they’ve given out more than 6 tons of food thanks to generous church members and local pet stores who donate every month.
Since 2020, the cost of dog food has increased more than 45%.
It’s not just a pet food pantry. Every third Sunday of the month, members are invited to bring pets to church. It’s not just dogs and cats – everything from bearded dragons to a pet skunk.
“We love that, and then they will get treats, and then we will all have coffee hour afterward. That’s another way people can just keep together with their pets and bring their whole families at once to church,” Ingalls said.
Heyes says he is grateful for each and every person who has helped donate to the pet food pantry.
“It’s wonderful to be a part of this and I hope we can expand further because the need is still increasing, sadly. But if we can play our part and if people want to join us in this endeavor, then we can help people keep their pets at home and remain as part of their family,” Heyes said.