The Animal Food Bank, a non-profit organization founded by Medicine Hat resident Nicole Fry, works to provide food for pets in need, including those affected by floods in British Columbia.
Fry, who is originally from Kelowna but moved to Medicine Hat this summer, launched AFB in 2019.
“Having volunteered and caring for the dogs for so long, I saw a disconnect between rescues and how they managed the supply, and I thought there had to be a better way,” Frey tells News.
“We are one of the only organizations in Canada dedicated to keeping beloved pets with their owners,” Fry said. “We are not an animal welfare agency – it’s left to the SPCA and the humane communities – and we are not rescuers… We support homeless people who have pets, are on low incomes or have been through hard times, which is something we’ve seen a lot with COVID.”
“We see and advocate for the best interest of pet ownership. Often with homeless populations, a dog is safety and unconditional love — perhaps the only unconditional love they have in their world. So we don’t look at it critically, as Only people who can financially afford a pet should have a pet, we want to support people who need that love and support beyond their financial means to do so.”
Frey explained that many of the donations AFB collects go to local food banks.
“People’s food banks are under no obligation to provide any kind of pet food to anyone,” she said. “Usually, what we’ve seen in the centers we’ve come to is that we end up taking over (pet food) distribution to food banks. They’re not normally equipped to handle pet food storage, pet food collection — they’re not funded for any of that.” ”
AFB currently feeds about 1,000 pets each month. This figure does not include donations to natural disasters, such as the British Columbia flood.
“We just moved 10,000 pounds in the last week and a half because of the floods,” she said. “We received and distributed 3,400 pounds of food on Tuesday, and it was 1,200 pounds from (the Medicine Hat community) and it’s already gone, as if desperate…People are lining up while the truck is off with the flood.”
Frey explained that in most cases, pets are not covered by natural disaster response plans, which means that owners of flood-affected pets may not receive funds to cover the cost of pet food, supplies, or housing costs, as not all evacuation stations accept pets, Many hotels charge a fee for pets.
Both Frey and AFB are asking for donations that will be used to provide pet owners affected by the flood with the necessary support for their pets’ well-being. Donations can be made at any of the Pet Valu locations in Medicine Hat. Financial donations can be made online at the AFB website.
The organization is also looking for volunteers to join their team of about 100 people across the country.
“We support pet food banks wherever needed. If I have supplies and have a driver, we will help.”