© 2010 Allie Phillips

For the past few years, pets have been a silent victim of the recession and financial downturn. It is unknown how many pets have lost their homes because their families lost jobs and homes, but it is estimated in the millions. With animal shelters already suffering from over crowding with too many pets, not enough adoptive homes, and declining donations, the crisis is continuing without any relief in sight. So what can be done to help people keep their pets during a financial downturn?

Community pet food pantry programs are cropping up across the country to help families keep their beloved pets. A recent article featured the efforts of 10-year-old Zachary Wilson from Orlando, Florida who, together with his mother, created The Animal Pantry of Central Florida to provide food to struggling families with pets. Since April 2009, it is estimated that Zachary’s efforts have helped 10,000 animals and reduced the number of pets being surrendered to shelters simply because of financial distress.

Zachary’s creative efforts not only show that you can make a difference regardless of your age, but that with a little effort and ingenuity, you can do more to truly change the lives of thousands of pets and their families. So what can you do to help? Check to see if your community has a pet food pantry and consider donating to help support the program. If your community does not have have a pet food pantry and if you have the desire to truly make a difference for animals, consider creating a pantry. By contacting pet food stores and setting up drop-off locations for people to donate food, you may be surprised at how much food can be collected and delivered to families and pets in need. Please post your story here if you have a pet food pantry, or decide to take the step to create one in your community.

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