Fairbanks animal food donations ‘out of control’ | Local News
FAIRBANKS — A Facebook post asking for dog and cat food donations for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter’s pet food bank caused a misunderstanding that “spiraled out of control” shelter manager Ariel Cunningham said.
“A radio station saw our post, misinterpreted it and thought it meant that the pets at the shelter had no food and started advertising on the radio,” Cunningham said Friday. “To clarify, the animals that are at the shelter are fine. They have food. Our budget is always tight, but we have enough in our budget to feed our animals.”
Cunningham said the pet food bank is similar to a human food bank and is “designed for people who are going through a tough time and they just need a little bit of (pet) food to get them through an emergency.”
The pet food bank had run out of dog food and was low on cat food when the shelter posted the request for donations Dec. 13. The response was immediate and overwhelming, Cunningham said.
“We’re actually at a point with the pet food bank now where we have gotten such support from the community that we’ve exceeded our storage capabilities. We don’t have any more open places to put the food that people have donated.”
Cunningham said some people purchased dog and cat food from local stores and had it delivered to the shelter. Others brought in the donations personally and two shipments arrived via UPS.
“We had one shipment that had five boxes full of bags. And then, more recently, we had a shipment with 13 boxes full of bags,” Cunningham said. “We get everything from 5 pound sample bags of expensive varieties to
50 pound bags of Old Roy. We get everything.”
Cunningham said the pet food bank was so inundated with donations that she became alarmed when she heard the owner of A Dessert Passage was offering discounts to customers if they donated food to the shelter. Cunningham went to the College Road jewelry store Friday to “talk to whoever was in charge of their advertising.”
“I haven’t heard their ad and I don’t know what they’re going to do about it, but it would be great to get this cleared up because it’s catching like wildfire,” Cunningham said.
When reached for comment Friday afternoon, Laura Smith, the owner of A Dessert Passage, said she was listening to the radio last week when she heard the DJ say the animal shelter was low on dog and cat food. Smith didn’t question it because she’d read previous reports about budget cuts affecting the shelter; she immediately purchased two large bags of pet food and dropped them off at the Davis Road facility.
“The two girls that were working there at the shelter and taking in all the pet food were very, very appreciative and said, ‘Thank you very much, we so need this,’” Smith said.
Wanting to help more, Smith decided to pay for her own radio ad offering a 10 percent discount for customers who brought a pet food donation to her store. Smith said she was surprised when Cunningham visited the store Friday.
“We had just started running the ad, and now, today, here comes this young lady that says, ‘Oh no no, we don’t need anything,’” Smith said. “No good deed goes unpunished here, and as soon as she left, I called my rep at the radio station and pulled the ad.”
Cunningham said it’s impossible to know how long it will be before the pet food bank needs more donations and suggested that “people just hold off for a few weeks.”
Cunningham said the shelter is always in need of toys, beds, blankets and other pet-related items people may want to donate.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.