YOLO SUN OPINION :

Pets are increasingly important to us in contemporary society for diverse reasons, yet with common inspiration of a seemingly ancient, primitive nature.

We are blessed and reassured by their presence, better understanding ourselves in context with them. They are our special companions sharing with us whatever life’s paths offer.

Sometimes life becomes an intense struggle where balancing of basic interests and needs of ourselves and our pets becomes economically conflicted, especially during persistent and desperate hard-times, upon which the sun lately rises.

Woodland is at root a working-class city, where already chronically stern   conditions drastically devolve within prolonged periods of fiscal calamity and high unemployment rates.

Sensing these difficult situations and grasping the serious consequences for its people and pets, four women of Woodland have created a crusade of kindness to best preserve greatly valued pet companionships, even more keenly important to folks when times are tough and stress pervasive.

Woodland Pet Food Pantry (WPFP) was established in May of 2010, “with an idea of helping people who are having trouble feeding their pets due to financial hardship,” explains Polly Nelson, one of these four women. “With families struggling to pay for the necessities, a consequence of this upheaval is what has happened to the family pet(s).”

Taking turns operating the WPFP on every other Saturday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 at the parking lot behind the Christian Church (Larry Love, Pastor) at College and Lincoln Streets, Nelson is joined in this quest by Debbie Hoppin, Karen Richardson and Gaye Nakken.

This group is busy between these alternating Saturdays, with collecting as much donated dog and cat food as they are able, as well as other useful pet supplies occasionally contributed by local pet grooming parlors or other likely sources.

Benefactors of WPFP include: Yolo County Animal Shelter, True Value Hardware, Pet Factory, Woodland Small Animal Care Clinic, Woodland Veterinary Hospital, Costco, and private individuals, some of whom bestow pet supplies through WPFP’s “Bag A Month Club,” with members “simply leaving their donation on their porch and we pick it up,” describes Nelson.

“On our first Saturday,” recalls Nelson, “we had 10 families with 10 dogs and 23 cats. We’re now averaging 40 families with 100 cats and 50 dogs.” The mission of WPFP is: “Keeping pets in their homes, off the streets and out of the shelter.”

Word is spreading on local streets that desperate pet owners have a helping hand from WPFP, which fervently hopes that new donations will match increasing needs for its services.

Cat food is scarce enough for the group, that it must be carefully metered out to ensure every anticipated request obtains some level of supply.

“Cat food is a persistent challenge in terms of really having enough to cover our needs,” says Nelson, alongside briefly apologizing to one of WPFP’s clients for not being able to better help their cats, who received a medium-sized bag of kibble.

About every fourth visit, WPFP now manages to offer some canned food for cats and dogs. Perhaps a “Case A Month Club” might foster improved donations, so these needy pets might have some every two weeks or so.

The stream of local folks finding help for their pets displays a genuinely hometown flavor, from a granny for whom the bags must be loaded in her vehicle, to a young girl carrying a large bag of dog food on the handlebars of her bicycle, while declaring: “I’d do anything for my dog!”

WPFP becomes familiar with its regular clients, growing in number, both sources of satisfaction for this group of empathetic women attempting to accomplish important help for retaining pets’ homes and basic welfare, rather than allowing them to suffer distress or harm because of economic disasters outside their understanding.

Please become a member. WPFP can be contacted at: pollyonelson@hotmail.com

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