AID-a-Pet pounces on pet food shortages throughout the state

Cecilia Kolenich, Broadcast and Media Coordinator

If you own a cat or dog, you’ve likely noticed the recent lack of pet food on store shelves. Over the past two weeks, there has been a pet food shortage impacting not only individual families in Connecticut but small companies around the nation as well.

In light of this recent shortage, a Hartford-based organization called AID-a-Pet has been using its resources to help those in need. For 20 years, this organization and its volunteers have accepted donations from those in Connecticut who have food, bedding, and other necessities to offer. Each month, AID-a-Pet holds an event where people can contribute and collect supplies for their animals. The most recent Pet Pantry was on January 22.

“AID-a-Pet was started back in 1998 by a friend of mine, Lorie Reardon, and I was asked to join as a Volunteer Board Member, Pet Food Pantry volunteer and Facebook Administrator in 2018. Lorie knew I was someone who had a compassion for animals and […] I did not hesitate to say yes. As an organization we have found that it is taking a lot longer to fill our pet pantry shelves with donations, especially dry and wet cat food,” said Deborah Cappa-Kotulski, a hall monitor at the high school and AID-a-Pet volunteer.

When shopping for cat food, Cappa-Kotulski has experienced this shortage herself. She recently had to purchase supplies for her cat through
Chewy, an online service that delivers pet food and toys around the country. She was unable to find her cat’s food at stores in her area, so ordering from Chewy was her only option. However, picking up food in-person is a great opportunity for those in Hartford without internet access.

“I have seen first hand, while volunteering at our Pet Pantry, how grateful those we help are to get food and supplies for their beloved pets. Many of the people we help have acquired their pets due to others abandoning them and without the help of AID-a-Pet would go without for themselves so that they could provide food for their pets,” said Cappa-Kotulski.

While some in Connecticut find help from their community, there are people around the country who are unable to support their animals. This extreme lack of pet food was caused in part by the spike in pandemic pet adoption. Suppliers have had to increase food production and services, including delivery to stores, warehouses, and homes. The stress that COVID-19 has put onto the food service industry also caused labor shortages, meaning there are less people to help transport and distribute items. Volunteers must intervene through smaller or-ganizations in their area to get people the supplies they need.

More recently, the shelves have refilled and most stores now carry pet food. If you are unable to feed, spay, or neuter your animal during the shortage, you can attend the next AID-a-Pet event on Saturday, February 26 from 10:00 1:00 P.M. for assistance. Find more information about where the events are held on the AID-a-Pet Hartford website or Facebook page.