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Donations of food help families keep their pets

Arefood pantries need donations pet food too. Pet shelters say once owners know pantries have pet food they realize they

Area food pantries need donations of pet food, too. Pet shelters say once owners know pantries have pet food, they realize they don't have to give up their ptes. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Where to donate

If you’re looking to donate pet food to pantries and other locations throughout the area, consider one of these:

The Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry: Food donations are accepted from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment at the pantry office, 659 S. River St., Aurora.

Holy Angels Food Pantry: 204 S. Russell Ave, Aurora. Call 630-897-2478.

Pet Haven — Oswego: 88 Riverwood Drive, Oswego. Call 630-554-2190.

Kendall County Food Pantry: 1204A Deer St., Yorkville. Call 630-553-0473. Email

Fox Valley Animal Welfare League: 11 John St., Suite B, North Aurora. Call 630-800-2254.

Updated: January 31, 2012 8:12AM

When most people think of a food pantry, they think of human food. But, when a family falls on hard economic times, the family pet suffers as well. Animal shelters throughout the area need donations to help feed animals that some can no longer care for.

Rich Glessner, clinic director of the Fox Valley Animal Welfare League, says that, in his 20-plus years of working with animal shelters, the current crisis of feeding animals has escalated exponentially.

“Five years ago, you might get one call out of 25 where someone had to give up an animal because of a financial crisis,” he said. “Today, that number has jumped to 23 to 24 calls out of 25, and it’s always for the same reason — people can’t afford their pets.”

Glessner and his staff are hoping to take a more proactive approach in the coming weeks by opening a spay and neuter clinic in an existing building at the Welfare League. The organization also plans to open a pet food pantry that Glessner said “would easily require 500 pounds of pet food a week.”

“We actually plan to finish the interior build out of the clinic this week, and we’re planning a grand opening in February,” Glessner said. “In the food pantry, it’s a matter of setting up shelving and getting the food stocked in here. People can help by either donating to the organization or making food donations.”

Kendall County Animal Control also says requests for food are up from those hoping to keep pets.

“We have had some administrative changes here in the past few months, and we no longer take relinquished pets,” said Anna Payton, who serves as warden there. “We refer a lot of people to the Kendall County Food Pantry where pet food donations are made. More pet owners are looking for ways to cut costs as their budgets have become tighter.”

In Oswego, Jean Cook, who owns Pet HAVEN, which provides shelter and placement services, said “owner give-ups” have doubled during the past year and that most are caused by people losing their homes.

“We have people who have tried to keep their pets by having them live in vehicles, and things just don’t work out any more as they can’t afford to feed them,” Cook said. “I don’t charge a surrender fee, and so people are relieved when they can give up an animal, but we still have the issue of feeding them and placing them in another home.”

Cook said that unlike other shelters, her needs are largely being met by both the PetSmart and Petco groups who donate “used” bags of food on a regular basis.

“We get bags of food that are already opened and have been taped up, either because they broke at the store or because people have returned them because the dog won’t eat them,” she said. “We’re not as big as some of the other shelters around, and about 90 percent of my needs are met by those donations.”

The other 10 percent, she says, come from those who use her service.

“Any surplus I have is given to local pantries that always need help,” she said.

Unlike the assistance Cook enjoys, food pantries in the area, such as the Holy Angels Food Pantry operated by the Holy Angels Parish, find that irregular supplies of pet food continue to exasperate the issue.

“We get pet food from places like the Jewel Food Store when bags are ripped or damaged in transit or in shelving the product,” said Jack Phelan, whose wife, Francis, serves as director of the pantry. “The problem is there aren’t any regular supplies or deliveries. It’s sort of hit and miss, and isn’t something we normally stock on the shelves.”

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