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Holiday pet pantry draws owners in need

December 14, 2010 |  1:19 pm

On a cold, cloudy Tuesday morning in downtown L.A., owners of needy cats and dogs found their way to the holiday pet pantry outside the headquarters of animal welfare service agency PAWS/LA.

They were the unemployed, the underemployed, the disabled.

“Whatdya have? Cat or a dog?” Eddie Tovar asks cheerfully standing at a table stacked high with boxes of food for both those species.

Ronette Monjet tells him she has two dogs and one cat.

“I’ve been struggling with the pet food situation,” said Monjet, 30, who lost her customer service job.

She wonders if she should give away the two dogs and just keep the cat.

“My parents would take one dog and my friend would probably take the other,” she said.

But after Tovar loads her up with two cases of dog food and two cases of cat food, her most pressing struggle was trying to cart them away.

“During the winter, it’s hard on me. I have to decide whether I’m going to feed my cats or have heat,” said Eddie Trejo, 50, as he wiped away tears. He sat near a bag of four boxes of cat food.

“It’s a blessing," he said. "My cats are my only companions.”

He showed off a photo on his cellphone of his black-and-white cat, Big Pong. The other one is named Ping Pong.

Guadalupe Hernandez came clutching her Chihuahua, Carnela -- shivering despite being clad in a zip-up dog sweater jacket. She has three more Chihuahuas at home.

“The others are asleep,” Hernandez said.

Alana Triplett, an actress, peered at the table of food.

“Can we get fish? Oh, chicken is good,” she said looking over the flavors.

“I have a Chinese Sharpei and he’s allergic to a lot -- corn, wheat,” said Triplett who got her 10-month-old dog, Chan Lu, as a rescue from a local city shelter. “I knew Sharpeis have special needs. They have eye problems, ear problems.”

A consortium of volunteers, PAWS/LA staff, and pet food execs were prepared to hand out 20,000 cans of cat and dog food.

“The goal was to keep pet families together,” said Melissa McGinnis, chief executive of L.A.-based Original Pet Food Company, which contacted PAWS to donate the food. (Despite the chilly air, McGinnis was dressed in a strapless red dress edged in fake white fur -- her version of Mrs. Claus.)

“Sometimes the pets, even though they are part of the family, are the last expenditure during the holidays.”


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