Hundreds of pet owners got the food they needed this weekend to keep their four legged friends fed and out of local shelters, thanks to the help of a local pet organization.
Pet owners stopped by the Pet Food Bank at First Coast No More Homeless Pets on the Northside of Jacksonville Saturday morning.
"It's a blessing," Debra Schaub said. "I don't know what I would do without it.
Schaub and other pet owners lined up, patiently waiting to receive pet food for free. Schaub is on disability and can't imagine caring for her four dogs without it.
"I probably wouldn't be able to take care of them," Schaub said. "It would be a lot harder to manage but I wouldn't be able to keep them. They would end up having to come to the pound."
That's what organizers are trying to prevent -- pet owners having to turn their animals into shelters. So they designed this event to make sure people going through financial hardships don't have to give their pets up.
Volunteers like Peggy Casper help measure food. Based on weight, each pet gets enough to last about a month.
It warms our hearts and we know, like I said, that the pets are being saved," Casper said. That their tummies are full. And it makes them more comfortable and so we really get as much out of it I think as the people who come to get the food."
First Coast No More Homeless Pets has been having pet food drives like this one since March of 2010. They've given away three quarters of a million pounds of food so far.
But it hasn't been without challenge. Organizer Debbie Fields says the need keeps growing, and the group has no budget and gets no government funding.
Every bag is donated by people in the community. While the group has had to hold events every 6 weeks instead of every month, they are still encouraged.
"To see the ability, what we've been able to do, the number of people we've been able to help, has just really been inspiring to me and it makes me happy to come out and do this every time," Fields said.
Counting on the community to step in to keep pets fed and with their families.
The next Pet Bank event will be April 12th. Pets must be spayed or neutered, which can be done for free with the same income criteria. To receive food, the owner must show proof of pet ownership, proof of spay/neuter, proof they meet income criteria and a valid photo ID.