Would you feed your cat or dog before you fed yourself or your family? Would you give up your pet if you could no longer afford one?
These are hard choices no one should have to make, according to Susan Katz, a woman with a mission. The Hartsdale, New York resident is preparing to open an independent food pantry for pets whose owners have fallen on hard times.
"They'll put a dog or a cat at the door of a shelter and just drop it off. It's heartbreaking,"said Katz, the owner of three cats herself. She has secured space in the basement of an American Legion Hall in Valhalla for what is now the Hudson Valley Pet Food Pantry.
She and other volunteers are stocking it with cat and dog food, but hope one day to be able to feed almost any kind of domestic pet.
"Any domestic pet, but horses- snakes, rabbits, birds," she said. "Someone even asked us about a pet tarantula, but I guess we'd have to find bugs for that," she laughed.
Right now Katz picks up donated supplies at Petco stores in Westchester County, as part of the retailer's national community outreach. Customers shopping for their own pets were surprised to learn of the pantry, but not the need.
"In bad economic times, people have to take care of their family first, but this way the animals won't suffer, commented cat owner Tracey Collins.
"I couldn't imagaine giving my pets up," replied Omar Cotes who was buying two large bags of food for his three dogs.
Pet owners will have to substantiate their need and fill out an application. Katz pointed out the pantry has legal non-profit status, making donations tax deductible.
As one of the very few of it's kind in the country, Hudson Valley is expected to open officially by May and serve residents in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Duchess Counties.