Why? Americans are animal lovers. We spend billions of dollars a year to feed, clothe and maintain our domestic animals. We bond with them and regard them as members of our family. And yet, in our current economic crisis, these bonds are being ripped apart. We see headlines like, "As the economy sinks, more people give up their pets" and "The cupboard was bare". People have to decide whether to feed themselves or their pets, and the result is a frightening increase in animals either abandoned or left at shelters. ARF was founded in November, 2008, in response to the crisis faced by many pet-owning New Yorkers who are experiencing financial difficulties.
How? ARF's approach is to help people before they have to give up their pets. Food stamps do not cover pet food. ARF's immediate goal is to make sure that people in need have the resources to feed their pets. ARF accomplishes this by distributing pet food to local food pantries which serve people entitled to relief services. And in so doing, ARF accomplishes it ultimate goal - to keep pets with their families and out of the shelters.
Where? ARF launched its model program as an experiment with the Yorkville Common Pantry in Upper Manhattan in November, 2008, using generous donations from "Calling All Pets", a local pet food store. In less than 2 months, ARF was providing help to 40 families. While ARF! now distributes pet food primarily thru Food Bank For New York City and Long Island Cares, ARF! continues to work on a local-pantry level by supporting office, school and scout food drives, and by creating relationships between neighborhood pet food stores and food pantries.
What Now? ARF’s tremendous progress brings tremendous challenges. We continue to need to create awareness of the problem and of ARF’s solution. We need even more donations of food and money to support our existing operations and to supplement them with more food. We are actively working on publicity and community outreach, as well as soliciting donations from major players in the pet products industry.
When? ASAP! ARF has achieved dramatic growth in its first year by partnering with two major not-for-profit organizations, Long Island Cares and Food Bank New York City, to reach pet-owning families in need all over the New York metropolitan area.
ARF was organized as a New York State not-for-profit corporation by Susan Kaufman, an attorney in New York City. Susan, and all the other people who have contributed their time, attention and funds, are doing it for their love of animals and out of their respect for the unique and beautiful relationship between people and their pets.