“With COVID and everything going on, [animal] shelters have been suffering…they're way down in donations, they're down in staffing, down in doctors, and then on top of that, the animals are not moving out of the shelter, even though the shelters are full,” says Michelle Beach, National Shelters Director.

VCA is continuing its focus on Pet Well-being, this time partnering with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, donating 32,020 pounds of pet food to local shelters and rescues this season, reaching over 23,000 pets in need. 

From Sept. 20 to Nov. 4, when a client enrolled in a Hill’s pet food subscription at their local VCA hospital, Hill’s would donate 10 pounds of pet food to a shelter in need. Nearly 700 VCA hospitals around the country participated, and they were able to provide free pet food to 232 shelters and rescues of their choosing. 

Any of the pet food that was not allocated to a specific shelter was sent to organizations representing communities where the need is especially great. The Chicago community in particular is struggling with a large stray population after a local shelter closed. The Anti-Cruelty Society, South Suburban Humane Society, and Hinsdale Humane Society recently partnered together and opened an emergency shelter to care for the overflow of stray animals and will receive 10,000 pounds of pet food as a direct result. 

“Our three humane societies have kind of put our heads together and we're opening up a temporary facility to be located on the south side of the city, so that we're close to where the need actually is and those animals have a place to go,” says Darlene Duggan, Vice President, Quality & Best Care for The Anti-Cruelty Society.

Additionally, due to the fallout from the pandemic, supply chain issues and fewer donations, many shelters are running low on resources. “It's a tricky place to be right now, trying to manage the shelter and have an elevated number of animals without access to our supplies, so this donation is wonderful for us because that kind of eliminates a lot of concern about the actual food,” says Duggan.
This program was started during the pandemic as a way for all parties to work together and make a positive difference during a hard year. “It was such a hit,” says Martha Smith,  Senior Brand Director of the VCA Marketing team. “The hospitals loved it. The clients loved it. The shelters were so grateful for all of the donations during such a tough year. So this year we've run it again and had a very similar response, just really an outpouring of support from our clients, from our hospitals, and of course from our partners at Hills, so that we can all partner together to make sure that we're doing something really nice for our shelter partners who are really important, but also shelter pets at this time of year.”

According to the ASPCA, over 6 million animals (roughly half of which are dogs and half of which are cats) enter animal shelters in the U.S. each year. Animal shelters can go through hundreds of pounds of food each year, and donating Hill’s pet food ensures that animals receive nutritious food to help them stay healthy until they find a home.

“It's really going to take everybody in the community to help our shelters and help our animals,” says Beach. “Anything people can do is going to make the world of a difference. Someone once told me, the shelter field is hard because there's always unlimited animals that need to be helped. And the thing is, you may not be able to help all of them, but the ones that you help, you're changing their world.”

There are ways to help. Beach suggests donating to VCA Charities, which identifies local shelters and non-profits in need of grants to make sure pets find and stay in loving homes.

Interested in adopting a pet? Find out more about VCA’s shelter partnerships here.
““It's really going to take everybody in the community to help our shelters and help our animals,” says Beach. “Anything people can do is going to make the world of a difference."”