SAN ANTONIO – Inflation and supply chain issues aren’t just affecting humans; records with the Bureau of Labor Statistics show they’ve got their teeth in Fido, too.
The cost of pet food and supplies has increased 3-7% from February 2021 to February 2022, according to the BLS. Even pet services like veterinary care have increased by at least 6.5% over that time frame.
Pet owners are also faced with supply-chain problems brought on by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, causing a disruption in food availability.
And with San Antonio’s high stray animal population, local shelters and organizations are aware of the problems that persist for dogs, cats and their owners.
One of those organizations, DaisyCares, offers free pet food and supplies for those in need. It’s basically a food bank for pets — people can simply register, go to the pantry and receive items if they qualify.
Shelters also offer free or low-cost vaccinations, microchips and spay/neuter services on a weekly or monthly basis.
Here are some solutions for people who want more information on free or low-cost pet food, services and vaccinations.
DaisyCares is one of the largest pet food pantries in the nation and provides pet owners with food, supplies and financial assistance, according to program manager Saskia Herbst.
Ami Gordon founded the organization in 2009 in honor of her Yorkie, Daisy, and DaisyCares eventually partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank.
The pet food assistance program works similar to the food bank: the organization receives the donations, sorts the items for pantries, and then distributes them for those in need.
DaisyCares’ goal is to educate adults and kids about animal responsibility while offering help to anyone in need of assistance due to hardship.
“So that is basically our mission, is keeping pets at home and saving pets lives by providing access to free cat and dog food, by offering financial aid toward veterinary care,” she said, adding that during the pandemic, the “need just intensified.”
About 70% of the clients of the San Antonio Food Bank clients are pet owners, so DaisyCares wants to make sure no member of the family goes hungry – human or animal, she said.
“So that is just the big, big goal, because we don’t want anyone to lose their pets during a hardship they go through, that’s already emotionally taxing and in many cases, especially again going back to COVID, that this isolation that so many of us went through, like elderly that live by themselves, younger single people that work from home and all of a sudden were cut off from like family and friends,” she said. “Their only companion, their only steady companionship was with their pet, so having the fear of potentially losing that one companion in their lives due to hardship, that is just something we want to prevent.”
“Especially in the last two years more than ever, people depended on the services we offer,” she said.
There are two ways to sign up for pet food assistance from DaisyCares:
For clients without internet access, call client services of the San Antonio Food Bank at 210-431-8326. Herbst said the call volume has been very high in the last several months, so it might take a while to speak with a staff member.
The fastest way to register is online at freshtrak.com. Visit the website, type in 78227 for the ZIP code (regardless of where the client resides), and select San Antonio Food Bank SAFB Curbside Pantry at the date and time that works best for curbside service. The client should let volunteers/staff know at the time of arrival that they need cat and/or dog food.
Another program under DaisyCares focuses on covering veterinary care bills.
The grants do not cover basic services like vaccinations or spaying and neutering, but they can help with surgeries, procedures and treatments.
“So let’s say a dog swallowed a toy and needs surgery or a cat has broken a leg, something like that, that is what we help with,” Herbst said.
The veterinary care program has a limited monthly grant capacity but grants of up to $250 are available.
Here are the criteria that the client will need to meet to be approved.
The client needs to qualify financially.
The client should be able to pay the balance owed to the veterinarian.
The veterinarian should establish a positive prognosis for the animal.
To apply for a grant and to read more about the eligibility criteria, visit daisycares.com/veterinary-care/.
The idea for DaisyCares started at the veterinary clinic, Herbst said.
Gordon founded the organization after Daisy fell very ill and had to stay at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine in College Station for care.
“And while Daisy was being treated for her illness, Ami had the opportunity to speak to a lot of other pet owners. And that’s how she heard about the struggles, the financial struggle when it comes to vet bills, when it comes to pet food, like all these things, and she vowed that she would help keep pets at home,” Herbst said.
Fast forward to today, DaisyCares has helped thousands of families care for their pets.
In 2021, DaisyCares served more than 70,000 pets and more than 40,000 families, according to its progress report. During that time, they collected more than 2.7 million pounds of dog food.
San Antonio Humane Society
The San Antonio Humane Society not only helps dogs and cats get adopted into lovable homes, but also offers low-cost vaccinations and spay and neuter services.
Kim Hinze, the director of community engagement at SAHS, said wellness clinics are offered twice a month at the society’s main location on Fredericksburg Road. They’re also offered on Saturdays at the Brooks Spay/Neuter Clinic in City Base Landing.
The wellness clinics include services like vaccinations, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, heartworm tests, nail trims, dewormer, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) tests. For information on the wellness clinics, click here.
The organization also offers spay and neuter services on a monthly basis. Appointments for the next month are made available at midnight on the 25th of every month, so when the 24th turns into the 25th.
Hinze said appointments are booked rapidly, so SAHS recommends people go online at least 10 minutes before.
“We are offering a little bit of a low-cost spay and neuter versus what you might have at your vet. So we’re really trying to help the community and to give back into the community as much as we can,” Hinze said. “We do education as well. So when the pet owner comes in and wants to have their pet spayed or neutered, we will sit there also doing our wellness clinics that we offer and talk about: why is this so important? Why do you need to have these vaccinations? Why do you need to have the spay and neuter program? Why do you need to do this for your pet?”
“And because San Antonio has … one of the worst over-pet populations in the country … it’s very important that we help control that and we educate as much as we can out in the community.”
To book an appointment or to search for upcoming events, click here.
Animal Care Services/Animal Defense League
ACS and ADL in January announced a new partnership that’s aimed at boosting access to vaccinations and microchips in underserved communities.
Services are available for San Antonio residents only and they are free of cost with proof of residency. The clinics are first-come, first-served.
“By ensuring our city’s pets have vaccinations, we’re making dogs and cats healthier of course; but we’re also protecting our residents from deadly zoonotic disease like rabies,” ACS Director Shannon Sims said in a news release. “Our shelters should see fewer pets coming in with easily preventable illnesses and that makes for healthier populations at our local animal agencies as well.”
ADL Executive Director Joel McLellan added that the goal for this year is to treat more than 1,000 pets.
The news release added that the vaccination clinics will be available monthly in targeted neighborhoods.
To keep up with dates and locations for the clinics, people can Like or Follow ADL on social media or visit their website, where they will post information about events. People can also call 210-655-1481, extension code 104, for more information on the clinics.
In addition, ADL provides free spay and neuter services to people who live in certain ZIP codes. For more information, click here.
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