NORFOLK, Va. — NORFOLK, Va. -- To help families and their pets experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, the Norfolk SPCA has created an Emergency Pet Pantry.
"I have two animals, and I know my heart would break if I didn't have the means to have food for them," Tessa Slinn, the Norfolk SPCA Communications Manager and a volunteer, said. "When you have animals who only depend on what you can provide for them, that's scary."
Teams of volunteers will deliver pet food to families affected financially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pet owners who live in Norfolk and need help can also use curbside service for pet pantry pick-up.
The pantry was created on Wednesday and was only 24 hours old as of Thursday.
"We're hoping for comfort and relief," Kimberly Sherlaw, the Norfolk SPCA Executive Director, said. "Not only for families, but for their pets, that we can take one bit of anxiety off your shoulders right now and help you as we get through this together."
If you'd like to donate, you can drop off unopened pet food and treats to the pantry, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily at the Main Shelter located at 916 Ballentine Boulevard. After-hours drop-offs can be placed at the shelter's front door.
Delivery volunteers will be wearing a Norfolk SPCA Volunteer shirt and name tag for identification. You don't have to be present to receive food, and volunteers will not be entering homes.
Supply availability is subject to change. Food given to pet owners will depend on how much supply the SPCA has and how many donations they get, "so we will need to know the number of pets you have in your household," Sherlaw said.
“Our Emergency Pet Pantry is a temporary solution for the Norfolk community to rely on during this time of uncertainty. The Norfolk SPCA is sending a message of love and support to our city, we care about you and your pets," said Sherlaw.
Families who are seeking assistance or who have questions can contact Slinn by calling (757) 622-3319, ext. 100 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 25, six days after the pantry was established, the shelter said it has already helped more than 50 families. Donors and businesses immediately responded, providing donations valued at more than $6,100.
"Bless you. Bless your team. I am in the hospital with pneumonia, and my son can't afford to feed my baby girl Bella. Please tell your team how much you are helping my family," shared a pet pantry recipient.
Another recipient with four dogs and three cats added, "I called for help because my husband saw this on the news. I had no idea people like you are out there helping families like this. Thank you all so much."
Sponsors of the Norfolk SPCA's Emergency Pet Pantry include private donors, Care-A-Lot Pet Supply, Muddy Paws Pet Care Center, the Petco in Virginia Beach and The Dogbone.