Many pet owners would agree that happiness starts with a wet nose and ends with a wagging tail. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people have found comfort in their pets but have also become worried about how they will be able to take care of themselves and those pets.
Many homeless and at-risk people of our community who have pets have become increasingly worried about how they will be able to feed their pets during the pandemic. Community Pet Project has stepped up to help local pet owners who are in need.
“Our intake requirements normally state that the client to be homeless or at risk,” said Community Pet Project’s president, Rhonda Eldridge. “We define ‘at-risk’ by anyone that is receiving any kind of services, such as disability, food stamps, housing assistance, etc.”
“We are waving all normal requirements and simply ask if the client is affected by COVID-19 either by loss or reduced income or medical issues, including doctor stay-at-home orders,” she continued. “They do not have to ‘prove’ anything; we are taking their word for it. Since our requirements now cover a larger client base, the requests have risen dramatically. We have delivered to 23 clients that have 59 dogs, 19 cats and one ferret in a matter of eight days.”
Community Pet Project started in June 2017 as a division of a local rescue. In June 2018, the organization incorporated alone and became an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“Our mission is to assist the pets of the homeless and at-risk in Hillsborough County by providing basic needs such as food, treats, collars, leashes, grooming supplies, beds, crates, medical referrals, medical co-pays and anything else we may have,” Eldridge said. “All of the items we distribute are donated to us.”
It is a small nonprofit that does not receive any kind of grants, local, state or federal funding; the organization relies solely on donations and the money it makes from fundraising.
“During COVID, the majority of our fundraising has been canceled,” Eldridge said. “Our community can support us by joining us at our fundraisers, donating items or money to us.”
Eldridge hopes more people from the community will help her nonprofit help the pet owners in need in our community.
“Our vision is to keep the pets with their families and out of the overcrowded county shelter,” Eldridge said. “For many, these pets are the only reason that they get up in the morning. For some, they are the only family that they have. Last year, we helped with just over $10,000 in medical bills. This organization could not exist without our community.”
Visit its website at communitypetproject.org or call 530-6722.