Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) has a resource available to people who may need a little help – the Community Pet Food Bank. The service allows pet owners to pick up free food and supplies like leashes, collars, blankets and flea treatment for their furry companions.
This effort was started by some volunteers in 2012. They helped three clients on their first day and now, they provide about 20,000 pet meals monthly.
The program is still completely run by volunteers to this day.
Anyone can use the shelter's free service and individuals who claim the free pet supplies are not required to show proof of income or any other documentation.
Seniors living on fixed incomes have used the pet food bank, as well as people with disabilities or terminal illnesses. Homeless individuals also benefit from RCHS’s Community Pet Food Bank and now, those hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic are using the service, too.
“We have people who were coming in who were getting meals on wheels and found out that they were eating part of the meal themselves, and part of the meal went to their pet, which means neither of them were getting the nutrition that they needed,” said John Van Zante with Rancho Coastal Humane Society.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pet Food Bank will be open every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in May. Usually, the service is only available on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
Aside from its generous food bank, the animal shelter offers a variety of services to benefit pet owners.
RCHS distributes pet food every Thursday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Encinitas and to the Encinitas Community Resource Center Food Pantry. However, the resource center's food pantry is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
In addition to those services, RCHS offers the Animal Safe House Program. The program started in 1999 as a way to help the pets and victims of domestic violence.
It’s grown from there and has become a resource to anyone that is in an emergency or crisis situation. Someone who has to go to the hospital and doesn’t have anyone to watch their pet, or a military family new to the area with their housing not yet available are able to use the service.
More information on these programs and adoptable pets can be found here.