SAVAGE, Md. — It's not just people who need help with food and basic necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their pets do too.
In response to the increase in demand for things like pet food and cat litter, the Maryland SPCA expanded its Kibble Connection Food Pantry program.
The shelter is using a warehouse in Savage that was donated by Prologis to store 24 pallets of donated pet food from Greater Good and Chewy. The Maryland SPCA is giving other local animal rescue groups access to the warehouse to take what they want to fill the needs of their communities.
"We know this is a very, very tough time for families but also for our local rescue partners," said Katie Flory, the community relations director at the Maryland SPCA. " We wanted to make sure we were able to help not only our families in our community but also our local partners to get the resources and the supplies that they need so that pets and people are comfortable in their own homes."
One of those rescue groups is Charm City Companions. Annie Pruitt, the executive director and co-founder, says they focus on helping people in low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore take care of their pets so they don't end up in a shelter.
"Especially now our model has become very relevant because we’ve always been in the community and meeting people where they are," she said.
Pruitt says volunteers drop off supplies and food on the doorsteps of their clients and also connect them to resources at other animal organizations. Pruitt also started a website called Charm City Pet Connect to keep people updated on services available during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
"We want to keep pets in the homes with their families," Pruitt said. "If we can reduce the burden on animal control, the shelters and other organizations that are trying to shift their priorities, to do the best for everybody we will do that and we have been able to do that."
And that's a huge help to the Maryland SPCA, which had to close its shelter in mid-March. All of the pets are in foster care, they are still doing emergency intakes and started doing virtual adoptions but they want people to keep their pets at home, not at the shelter.
"It really takes a village. Not one of us is able to help on our own but if we can all come together and help each other out, we’re able to help more people in our community and more animals in our community," said Flory.
Since mid-March, the Maryland SPCA food pantry has helped more than 1,000 pets and almost 600 community cats. Individuals can still pickup food and supplies at the shelter located off Falls Road in Baltimore.
If you or someone you know needs help with getting pet food or supplies, click here to fill out a form for the Kibble Connection Food Pantry.