By Brenda Waters

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As people continue to struggle in this down economy, some are turning to food pantries and shelters to put meals on the table.

But even our four-legged friends are hurting in these tough times. Many shelters that provide food to both humans and pets are struggling to keep up with demand.

The “Chow Wagon” donation chest is empty and the hallway at Animal Friends where pet food is normally stored is bare.

Five years ago, Animal Friends initiated the Chow Wagon program and began donating pet food to 20 food pantries throughout the area.

“Our goal is two-fold, we’d like to make sure that pets in the community are being fed and aren’t going hungry. We want to make sure that families can keep their pets,” said Jolene Miklas, of Animals Friends. “We simple want to keep families intact and keep pets from coming to shelters.”

However, donations are slow coming in and what is given goes quickly. Officials say 1,300 families depend on the program.

“The food that we received yesterday is going back into the community today,” said Miklas.

None of the animals at Animal Friends are in need, but some pets in the community, mostly dogs, are in need.

“The food pantries are asking us for food and right now we simply don’t have it; so we’re begging the community to come forward,” Miklas added.

Animal Friends says this is the lowest they have seen donations in the five years of the program.

“We tend to run out at the beginning of every summer and that’s because we believe that families are busy,” she said. “Some of our best fundraisers are classrooms and scout groups, but as classes let out for the summer, our supply tends to dry up.

If you’d like to help, donations can be sent directly to Animal Friends.

Animal Friends
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