BELFAST — My name is Heidi Blood, I am the founder of Waldo County Pet Food Pantry. As an Animal Control Officer for several Waldo County towns, I work closely with the area animal shelters. That is where I saw a large number of beloved pets being relinquished. Many for the simple reason that their owners had fallen on hard times.
We all know how important our pets are to us, especially for Veterans, elderly and disabled folks with maybe not so many friends or family to speak of. Now imagine being temporarily unable to provide for that pets basic needs and having to make the heartbreaking (for human and pet) decision to give them up. With the rising cost of living for many, one unexpected expense can make this is a harsh reality.
Most animal shelters are already overcrowded with stray, lost and abandoned animals, and this was putting a huge burden on them. In speaking with many people I learned that several area pet food pantries had closed due to lack of supplies, lack of volunteers and lack of funding. There is certainly no lack of people and pets in need. Something needed to be done. Did you know there are over 10,000 pets in Waldo County? And that’s just cats and dogs.
As a member of VFW Post 3108 Auxiliary, I brought this up at a monthly meeting. I told the members I would like to spearhead a project and see if a long term solution could be made. And Waldo County Pet Food Pantry was started. The VFW Post was gracious enough to offer their building as a place to hold the pantry once a month. They also offered a small space to keep some of our supplies at no cost. In addition, with the VFW sponsoring the program, that included the newly formed nonprofit in their 501c(19) status. Making the program able to be launched much faster than anticipated.
The first pantry was held in December of 2013, at that time we focused only on Veterans and their families. It didn't take long for us to see that the need was there for many other non-veteran community members. So, we opened it up to the public with no other eligibility requirement than, you must live in Waldo County. And you can use the pantry up to six times per year. We do still give priority to Veterans, however. And we always have emergency supplies on hand for unforeseen events, such as house fires.
We currently help keep at home over 350 animals every month, most of which are cats and dogs, but we do have some people with birds, bunnies and other small creatures. Plus livestock! We limit the amount of supplies given to each household, to ensure that we can help as many people as possible. Along with receiving supplemental food and supplies, we also provide education and resources for pet needs such as Maine animal laws, rights and responsibilities, what type of food is best for a pet, properly fitted collars and harnesses, area rabies clinics and spay/neuter programs that are available.
Several local businesses and people donate to us in many ways, some donate food and supplies, some monetarily, some allow us to advertise. We do bake sale and yard sales to help raise funds. As well as any other fundraising ideas we can come up with. We do have to purchase food every month to supplement what is donated.
Ways you can help:
- Donate no longer used food, no longer played with toys, treats, blankets, dishes, beds, collars and leashes, etc
- Donate your Bottles and cans to Belfast Redemption Center or Little River Redemption Center
- Donate via PayPal to email@example.com
- Donate via GoFundMe www.gofundme.com/WaldoCountyPetFood
- Checks can be mailed to Waldo County Pet Food Pantry 34 Field Street Belfast, Maine 04915
- Put your change in one of our Donation boxes at Loyal Biscuit, Family Pet Center, Perry's Quick Stop, Belfast Variety, Aubuchon or the VFW canteen.
- Food and Supplies can be dropped off at VFW Post 3108 and day after 11 a.m., you may also call (207)322-3237 to schedule a pick up.
Moving forward we hope to continue and expand this program into a much needed resource for animal lovers. We strive to provide alternative options for people thinking of relinquishing or giving away a pet. Perhaps getting them in touch with the right people, groups and organizations for training, feeding, grooming and healthcare. We can keep them out of area shelters and in homes where they are loved.
We are re focusing in 2018 in an attempt to help more Veterans in the area. Specifically Veteran farmers. We have recently applied for a $1000.00 grant through the VFW Foundation. If we are awarded this grant, the monies will be earmarked to purchase grain, hay and other necessities for Veteran farmers.