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Local pet food program a success

After only five months, Debbie Martin, the director of Friends of Felines Hatteras Island, has expressed amazement at the success of Operation Feed Our Pets.

Working with five Dare County food pantry locations, Operation Feed our Pets has distributed more than 5,000 lbs. of dog food, cat food and kitty litter to local food pantries.

A cooperative between three volunteer 501(c)3 organizations that help Dare County dogs and cats, pet owners and caretakers through multiple community-wide programs Friends of Felines Hatteras Island, Feline Hope and Coastal Humane Society, came together to establish a food pantry program for pets.

It proved to be a unique way to help Dare County residents provide their pets with dog food, cat food and cat litter through the current pandemic.

Explaining that normally there would not be pet food at a food pantry, Martin said they thought it would be great to do something like this.

“When the COVID pandemic started, we decided there were so many residents that could barely feed themselves, much less worrying about trying to feed their pets, that we should do something,” said Martin. “We are non-profit animal organizations. So we reached out to the public to donate food and then we worked with each local Food Pantry. When people needed food, they could reach out to their local food pantry.”

Although Martin does not recall having a goal for donations, she is amazed at what has been done in such a short time.

Martin partnered with Coastal Humane Society and Friends of Feline Hope for the Operation Feed Our Pets program and to date have distributed more than 5,000 lbs. of dog food, cat food and kitty litter to local food pantries.

Martin stressed that while the program continues to be a success, it is not a one-time activity. The group plans to continue keeping food pantries supplied until the COVID pandemic crisis has passed.

Martin explained that while she does not know the northern beach guidelines, on Hatteras Island, food pantry patrons go through Dare County for Monday through Thursday visits. Each Friday, the pantry is open to the public. The Methodist Church Avon Pantry is open every day. Everything is picked up at the food pantry, no deliveries.

She went on to say visitors and locals alike who wish to help may drop off food or money at several spots accepting food for OFOP.

Among them are PetSmart in Nags Head, Breeze-Thru in Avon, Roanoke Island Animal Clinic and Coastal Animal Hospital in Kill Devil Hills.

Donors can also order food from PetSmart and have it shipped to the Nags Head store attention: Operation Feed Our Pets. Another option is to ship food to the Breeze-Thru, 40374 Hwy. 12, Avon, NC  27915.

“When the restaurants close down people are still going to need food,” Martin continued. “So we plan another blast for fall donation soon.”

People can send a cash donation or Operation Feed Our Pets at one of the three organization’s web sites or by sending a check to Coastal Humane Society, P.O. Box 1331, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948.

“Mark your donation as ‘Food’ and we’ll take it from there,” added Martin.

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