Manassas pet food pantry helps owners with cost

You've heard of food pantries for those struggling to make ends meet. Now there's a pet pantry providing for a new group of clients in the wake of the economic downturn.

Betty Shavatt is an animal lover, caring for a cat and two dogs. But she says the cost of being a pet-owner adds, especially for the food.

"For the big bags I get for mine, it's $14-15," Shavatt said.

But thanks to a local pet food pantry founded by the Prince William Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Shavatt said she's able to provide for her four-legged friends without taking a hit to the wallet.

"I'm glad they have it because it helps me out a lot," she said.

Located in the Manassas City Animal Adoption Center, Prince William County residents who provide a proof of need can have access to the supplies twice a month.

The pantry launched back in 2009 and since then, the demand has gone up. It averages about 50 people a week looking for pet food and accessories.

"With the environment changing with the economy, there was an increase for the number of people who were needing additional assistance for food for their pets," said Judy Haller, with the Prince William Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In many cases, families bring their animals ther, ready to leave them at the shelter saying they can't afford to buy food.

"We'll tell them if you look over to your side there is a food pantry and if you can take food rather than bring your pet here and risk them being put to sleep, we would much rather you sign up for the free food and do that," said Jamie Trewartha, with the Manassas City Animal Adoption Center.

,Items in the pantry range from dog treats to toys. Donations keep coming from community members and local businesses, but volunteers say they could always use more.

"Dog, rabbit, ferret, bird, whatever type of animal food that folks can donate," Trewartha said. "That's what we look for."

The pantry is a valuable resource that Shavatt is thankful to have found for her pets.

"I think a lot of people would be lost without it."

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