The Pasadena Humane Society's pet food'safety net' lets pets stay with their families during times of financial hardship.
Chloe, Sophia and Rede have been helped by Pasadena Humane’s “Helping Paws” program to assist families in caring for their pets during times of need. (Photo courtesy of Laura DiCesare)
A tiny simulation of what it's like to live in poverty was one of the most impactful exercises in my social work training in the early 1990s. Participants in the program were given a "paycheck" that was equal to a month's worth of full-time minimum wage earnings. Our assignment was to create a monthly budget.
At the time, 50 weeks at the minimum wage of $40 per hour equated to around $8,500. For a family of two, the poverty threshold was $9,190. While it was difficult to budget for even the most basic needs based on monthly revenues, it became impossible to make ends meet when more obstacles were added to the mix. When a child became ill, he or she had to make difficult decisions, such as going without meals in order to afford medicine. The numbers simply didn't add up.
In our country, food insecurity is not a new problem, but the COVID-19 outbreak has made matters worse. In 2021, one out of every eight Americans was predicted to be food insecure.
Many households who are trying to feed their families have dogs who require food as well. It's heartbreaking to learn that many people are forced to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pets. Financial difficulties may force families to make the difficult decision to give their pets to a shelter.
Pasadena Humane Society and other shelters across the country are striving to help pet families in need. The idea is for pets like Rede, Sophia, and Chloe, Pasadena resident Laura DiCesare's cherished Chihuahua companions, to stay with their families.
Doctors urged DiCesare to take a leave of absence from work at the start of the pandemic because she had a health issue that put her in grave danger if she got the virus. Sophia's dogs were challenging to care for due to her limited income, especially since she had a seizure disorder that necessitates daily medicine and blood testing.
DiCesare had already visited the shelter and was familiar with the organization's mission. She reached out for help because she knew some of the staff at Pasadena Humane and learned about the "Helping Paws" initiative.
"Helping Paws" is a safety net of Human-Animal Support Services that helps families care for their dogs when they are in need. The program is one of several services provided by Pasadena Humane Society as part of our mission to be more than just a shelter. Our goal is to keep people out of shelters as much as possible.
DiCesare has received free food for her three dogs since joining "Helping Paws" through the program's Pet Food Bank. The canines were also eligible for free vaccinations at the Pasadena Humane Society's low-cost immunization clinic.
Rede, Sophia, and Chloe have been able to stay in their home, avoiding the terrible and heartbreaking separation from their human mother, and Pasadena Humane has been able to focus shelter care on lost, neglected, and mistreated animals who have no other option.
Prices for groceries, petrol, and just about everything else have recently risen, making things even more difficult for people living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, numerous animal-welfare organizations are ready and willing to help, so pet owners in need don't have to worry about feeding and caring for their animals.
Please call 626-792-7151 or visit www.pasadenahumane.org for more information about Pasadena Humane's Helping Paws Program or if you require pet food assistance.