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Calgary Cares: Parachutes for Pets helps struggling animal owners during COVID-19 pandemic

Calgary Cares: Helping struggling pet owners care for four-legged family members
WATCH: Calgary non-profit Parachutes for Pets is answering an urgent call from pet owners who are struggling to feed their animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauren Pullen reports.

They are there for us without question, offering their unconditional love; animals can be a huge support system, especially during these uncertain times.

But for an increasing number of Albertans, it’s becoming harder to feed and care for their four-legged members of the family.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Albertans unable to afford food for animals are getting much-needed support

“It’s really tough out there right now. Just panic mode, crisis mode all over,” Parachutes for Pets founder Melissa David said.

The non-profit was created to help low-income pet owners care for their animals by paying for vet bills, medication, food and grooming.

READ MORE: ‘Difference between life and death’: Calgary rescue raising money for pet-friendly shelter

But in the middle of March, when COVID-19 hit Alberta, Parachutes for Pets transitioned into emergency mode.

Now, 90 per cent of its money is going towards making pet food hampers so no animal goes hungry.

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“We’re getting calls, emails, texts, pretty much every single day,” David said.

“They’ve made a call to possibly surrender their pet because they don’t know how they’d feed it. They’ve made a call where they’re telling us they can only feed their pet every second day right now.”

Since March 12, Parachutes for Pets has delivered more than 500 pet food hampers.

A Calgary non-profit is answering an urgent call from pet owners who are struggling to feed their animals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Calgary non-profit is answering an urgent call from pet owners who are struggling to feed their animals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global News

Its latest donation was to the Veterans Association Food Bank, which will deliver the pet hampers to any veterans who need them.

“I personally know I wouldn’t be able to make it without their help,” said Rita Vohorst, who received a hamper for her two-year-old cat Dusty.

“These guys [at Parachutes for Pets and the Veterans Association Food Bank] are angels on earth. I’d be lost without this guy,” Vohost said, petting Dusty, “and he’d be lost without these people.”

READ MORE: Should you adopt a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“We’ve certainly seen a huge rise in demand, not just for food hampers for human veterans but for our furry little companions who are keeping them alive,” said Mike Nelson with the Veterans Association Food Bank.

His dog Bear helped him through his struggles with PTSD and Nelson knows just how vital Parachutes for Pets can be. The organization was able to pay for emergency surgery for Bear, who is now back to being his playful self.

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Mike Nelson’s dog, Bear.
Mike Nelson’s dog, Bear. Global News

“Thank you so much for everything you do. Bear’s given you lots of kisses… so he’s thanked you too,” Nelson said, smiling at David.

“We have to get through this together and be in this together and pets are part of our family. We’re fortunate to have a platform to be able to do it, so we’re just happy to do out part,” David said.

Parachutes for Pets relies on donations to make pet food hampers. If you are in need of support or want to help the cause, you can find out more on the Parachutes for Pets website.