Lt. Chad Ferrin and his staff at Weber County Animal Services, in cooperation with American Nutrition, the makers of Atta Boy! dog food and VitaBone dog biscuits, are doing their part to make sure Weber County pets don't lose their homes when hard financial times hit owners.
Ferrin, director of Animal Services for Weber County, said an animal is often surrendered to the shelter when the animal's owner can no longer afford to feed it.
"It's a question of whether I feed my kids or feed my dog or cat. Obviously, the pet is going to be the one that comes out on the short end in most cases."
Ferrin and his staff recognized that they had a surplus of food, thanks to generous donations they've received from American Nutrition, and they wanted to do something to stem the flow of pets into their animal shelter, so they created the Pet Food Assistance Program.
"We have people come in, and you can see the disappointment in their faces when they have to surrender a beloved pet because they just can't care for it any longer," Ferrin said.
"It's difficult to take that from them. If we can help a family keep a pet in their home, it's always better for the pet to stay with the family they know, in circumstances they're familiar with, out of the shelter environment."
Ferrin said he doesn't have an unlimited supply of surplus food, but while the surplus lasts, he wants to help those in need. There are, however, certain restrictions on who will be able to claim the food.
"It's available to Weber County residents. They have to come in and show proof that they own an animal and that it's properly licensed. We have records of most of the agencies in Weber County that license here with us or with Ogden and Roy. Now, a lot of agencies don't license cats, so they could bring in something from a vet that shows that they do care for this cat, that it's not just a stray cat running around their neighborhood."
Paperwork from a local veterinarian's office showing the cat's vaccination history or a vet visit within the past six months would qualify as sufficient proof to receive aid.
Ferrin said the Pet Food Assistance Program would continue as long as the shelter continues to receive donations to the program.
"Other than that, we send people to Catholic Community Services in west Ogden. We've supplied food to them as well, to help them with their program," he said.
"We hope people take advantage of this, but we hope they don't abuse it, because it's a limited resource that we have."
Ferrin praised American Nutrition for that company's continued support of Weber County Animal Services.
"Everybody down there has been on board with helping us with our animal shelter and supplying our food for us here. They've been wonderful partners with their donation."
If you're in need of aid, the Weber County Animal Shelter is at 1373 N. 750 West in Ogden and can be reached at 801- 399-8244.
Catholic Community Services is at 2504 F Ave., in Ogden, and can be reached at 801-394-5944.
For those who would like to make a donation, a list of Weber County Animal Services' needs may be found on the shelter's website: www.co.weber.ut.us/animalshelter/donations.php.