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Iowa City Animal Center encourages donations to their pet food pantry


A curious Kickstand roams the cat colony room at the Iowa City Animal Center. Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

As the community copes with unemployment, social distancing and mixed messages from federal, state and local leaders, even those less at risk of contracting COVID-19 are seeing their worlds shift — from kids to pets.

While some pets may be relishing the extra couch time with their housebound humans, a stretched budget can affect all members of the family. Iowa City’s animal shelter is looking to make feeding animals easier by establishing a food bank.

“The Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center wants to help those who are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 situation and may need assistance with their pets,” the center said in a press release on Thursday. “We are accepting donations of food for dogs, cats, and small animals and will fulfill all requests as we are able.”

The Iowa City Animal Center (3910 Napoleon Ln) is currently closed to visitors and volunteers, but people may drop off donations at the side door (near where the Animal Control truck is parked) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Staff also encourage prospective donors to place an order for food or other supplies with Iowa City pet store Leash on Life (319-354-4334, info@leashonlife.net), which they will then deliver to the shelter.

Those interested in requesting donations of pet food should call the shelter at 319-356-5295. “We are working with a limited crew and still taking care of animals there, so you may need to leave a message,” the press release explained. “If so, give us your name, phone number, and the number & type of pets that need food. We’ll let you know when it’s available to pick up outside our main front door (facing mostly north). It will have your name on it.”

Pet food bagged into smaller portions at the Coralville Food Pantry. Monday, March 3, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Coralville Community Food Pantry established its own pet food pantry this year, prior to the coronavirus outbreak in Iowa. They encourage donations of dog and cat food, as well as monetary donations, which may be earmarked for the Pet Food Pantry.

“Similar to other food pantries in the area, we have a really great, abundant supply of food, and a lot of that is thanks to the community support that we receive, but there’s definitely a need for pet food, and that’s just as important,” CCFP Director John Boller told Little Village.

Adoptable dog Copper peeks out of her enclosure at the Cedar Valley Humane Society. Aug. 22, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Another local shelter, Cedar Valley Humane Society, has put out a call for donations. Unlike the Iowa City Animal Center, CVHS is not an extension of the city government, and relies entirely on donations, adoption fees and retail sales of pet supplies for cash flow — all of which have been disrupted by the closure of the shelter during the pandemic, they reported in a Facebook post.

“Financial donations are needed for everything from keeping the electricity running to paying our animal’s veterinary bills.”

Donations to the Cedar Rapids shelter can be made through their website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence to suggest that pets can catch or spread COVID-19 — so while you should stay at least six feet away from other people, feel free to cuddle your pets or even adopt a new one, as able. (Contact your local shelter for information on their pandemic adoption protocol.) The Humane Society does encourage pet owners to make a plan in case they should become ill or hospitalized for the virus.

It is important to have a plan in place for all members of your household to respond to any emergency, including illness. Ensure that you have necessary pet items on hand ahead of time, including a two-week supply of pet food and prescription or non-prescription medications.

In addition to preparations typically recommended for any natural disaster threat, put a plan in place if you become ill and need to be hospitalized:

  • Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if you are hospitalized.
  • Have crates, food and extra supplies on hand for quick movement of pets.
  • Keep all animal vaccines up to date in the event boarding becomes necessary.
  • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions. Including the prescription from your veterinarian is also helpful.
  • Ensure that your pets are wearing a collar and ID tag.

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