‘Pets are our family’: Nevada County Pets in Need to close pet food pantry, shift focus
Nevada County Pets In Need, a nonprofit organization which operates a pet food pantry at 139 Joerschke Drive in Grass Valley, will be closing the pantry Wednesday.
The decision to close the pet food pantry came after the organization reevaluated the use of its resources, ultimately concluding that keeping a physical location open five days per week did not work well financially, according to Naomi Cabral, operations director with Nevada County Pets In Need.
Its Colfax Avenue thrift store will remain open.
“So much of the resources that NCPIN has that (were) going toward rent now can just go toward client needs for their pets, and I think that’s a really wise way to go,” said Cabral.
From the current pet food distribution system, in which clients receive pet food directly from the Nevada County Pets in Need’s Grass Valley pantry, the nonprofit plans to shift to a system in which it provides its clients vouchers, which they can then redeem for pet food at a partnering store.
As of Wednesday, according to Cabral, the organization was in contact with local store Incredible Pets about working with them on the vouchers, although she clarified the collaboration had not been finalized. The new voucher system is planned to be up and running next month, according to Cabral, and vouchers will be distributed to clients on a monthly basis.
Cabral said Wednesday that, in preparation for this change of system, the organization was contacting each of its clients personally — both to make sure they were informed of the pet pantry’s upcoming closure, and to survey their preference on how the organization should go about distributing vouchers after making the switch.
Possible ways forward with voucher distribution, she said, included mailing them to clients directly or making them available for pickup at the nonprofit’s thrift store, at 434 Colfax Ave. in Grass Valley.
Cabral estimated that, while the pantry has been open, it has served around 300 clients — individuals or families — each month.
The criteria for becoming a client, said Cabral, is essentially being unable to afford food or needed services for their pet, although she said the organization does not require verification such as proof of income. Around 40% of the organization’s clients are senior citizens, according to Cabral.
Along with the shift in system for distributing pet food has also come a shift in focus for the organization’s services, according to Cabral.
“Providing pet food is not going to be the main service that we provide any longer,” she said, explaining that the organization is looking to expand its assistance with access to veterinary services and expects to do so within the upcoming two months.
Cabral said Nevada County Pets In Need had assisted its clients with access to veterinary services in the past, although not as a part of a formal program.
In order to “zero in on where people are not getting services yet,” according to Cabral, the organization plans to expand on its existing partnership with Grass Valley clinic AnimalSave, with whom it has previously worked on spaying and neutering animals, and to help their clients in need of access to other veterinary services for their pets, such as immunizations and emergency procedures.
On the motivation for the organization’s services, Cabral said, “Pets are our family, and we don’t want to see anybody have to make a hard decision about whether they should keep their animal or not … so we want to help people as much as we can.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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