Humane Pennsylvania’s community outreach team is all about helping people in our community take better care of their pets. We start from a baseline of no judgment – our mission is not to shame people for what they can’t provide but to step in and fill gaps where needed, whether that’s offering free food, hosting vaccine/microchip clinics, or providing other essential services. In many instances, to describe these services are “lifesaving” is not an exaggeration.
Very often, though, we hear people say “if people can’t afford to care for their pets they shouldn’t have them”. That sentiment is of course rooted in good intentions – after all, without proper care the animals suffer. But it misses the larger point — pets aren’t luxury items reserved for the privileged few. And many times the people who wind up needing our lifesaving support are truly lifesavers for their pets. Here are just a few examples:
One of our Spike’s Pet Pantry clients currently has 6 cats and 3 dogs. That would be a lot of pets for someone who has a considerable amount of disposable income, let alone someone who barely scrapes by, so it would be easy to say “what a foolish, uncaring woman she must be to have taken on that many animals!” But if you were to dig deeper and actually ask about her story you’d find that she never set out to acquire any of those pets — each one was either abandoned or needed a new home because their existing owner found themselves in an even worse financial position than hers. Taking those animals into her home was an act of kindness.
A recent addition to Spike’s Pet Pantry’s client list is a young couple who had no intention of taking on the expense of an animal but heard a tiny kitten struggling to escape from a storm drain and just couldn’t leave him behind. The free services we’ve been able to provide allowed them to save that kitten and ensure he has a permanent loving home.
Then there’s the road crew worker who comes to Spike’s Pet Pantry still in uniform to get free pet food. She was able to make ends meet with her 2 dogs and 2 cats, but now that her son and daughter-in-law have had to move in with their own 3 pets because they lost their jobs, money is just too tight. Without our help, their family would have lost something even more precious than just their income – they would have lost their beloved family members.
It’s easy to judge from the outside – it’s a lot harder once you start learning peoples’ stories. Every day we meet exceptional people who are going to great lengths to ensure the best possible care for their animals. We are grateful that we can be their safety net. And we are grateful to each and every one of you who has donated your time, money and contributions of food and supplies to allow us to continue serving others.