​The PEI Humane Society and The Upper Room Hospitality Ministry Food Bank are working together to help keep pet bowls full.

The food bank provides temporary assistance to families who are experiencing financial hardship, by providing free pet food and supplies.

Its mission — to keep pets in their homes with their families.

"Often people are asking for both dog and cat food, they're a member of the family, they're a companion, so it's important to treat them and ensure that they have proper nutrition and food as well," said Mike MacDonald, general manager of the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry.

"I know that many of our clients live alone, it's important to them, it's what they see everyday and the interaction and the love coming from a pet is unconditional."

'Becomes really stressful'

Food Bank Pet Food 2

The PEI Humane Society provides the Upper Room Hospitality Ministry on Belmont St. food that’s getting close to its stale date so it gets used and doesn't go to waste. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The PEI Humane Society donates any bags of food that are close to the stale date to Upper Room.

Marla Somersall, executive director at the PEI Humane Society, said it's important food isn't wasted by making it available to families who really need it.

"It's wonderful for people to have pets," she said.

"It's so good for everyone's mental health to be able to care for an animal and then it becomes really stressful if times are tough or your situation changes, and you don't have the means to care for that animal in the way that you would like to, so a little bit of extra food can go a long way."

'Part of the family'

Food Bank Pet Food 4

The PEI Humane Society provides free food and supplies to help keep four-legged family members with their families. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The Upper Room Food Bank relies on the generosity of the community and welcomes donations of dog and cat food, kitty litter, pet treats and toys.

MacDonald said people fall on hard financial times but don't want to give up a pet.

"Many times when our clients make decisions to get a pet or to purchase something, they're in that position where they can do it, but unfortunately things can change quickly," he said. 

"Whether they lose employment or their health changes or whatever it may be ... that pet is part of the family and it's hard to let that pet go."

The Humane Society, which relies on the public for donations, delivers any food it can no longer use to the Upper Room. MacDonald said the food is passed along to clients, who are regulars at the Belmont Street location. 

'Unconditional love'

Food Bank Pets

Mike MacDonald of Upper Room Hospitality Ministry says it all comes down to donations. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

MacDonald said the goal is to keep pets in their current, loving homes and remove the monetary burden from their owner, who might be considering giving up their pet because they feel they can no longer afford to feed them.

"It is that companion, that unconditional love that you receive from a pet and they're extremely important to a lot of people," he said. 

"We do our best, and we're fortunate that the Humane Society will make those donations to us, as well as other people coming through the doors. It all adds up." 

Donations of any unopened bags of dog and cat food, or any type of pet food, can be dropped off at the Humane Society or Upper Room.

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