Even a capable canine columnist like me can find it difficult to make ends meet. So, I depend on my mom for most things: filling my bowl with kibble, taking me to the vet for regular exams, and replacing my old squeaky squirrel with a new squeaky hedgehog. But not every pet is as fortunate. Hundreds of pets—from dogs and cats to birds and ferrets (and let’s not get started on reptiles)—end up abandoned on the streets, surrendered at shelters, or put into homeless situations when pet owners find caring for them difficult or impossible. Luckily, there are resources available for those who need help caring for their animals.
PET FOOD ASSISTANCE
Many animal shelters understand that pet owners struggle financially, and they offer pet food assistance through local food pantries to help ease the burden.
The Jacksonville Humane Society manages and maintains a pet food pantry. Pet owners must provide proof that their pets are spayed/neutered to receive this service. There are no other eligibility requirements. The pantry is open 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, JHS Warehouse, 1817 Foster Dr., Southside, jaxhumane.org.
First Coast No More Homeless Pets’ Jacksonville Pet Food Bank offers a one-month supply of cat or dog food to households with up to five cats and four dogs. All pets must be spayed or neutered. The distribution schedule varies based on supply. 464 Cassat Ave., Edgewood, fcnmhp.org.
Meals on Wheels for Pets provides nutritious pet food for companion animals of homebound seniors in Nassau County. 17 S. Seventh St., Fernandina Beach, mow4petsnassau.com.
LOW-COST VETERINARY CARE
Pet medical care can be expensive. If your animal needs a medical procedure you can’t afford, there are organizations that may be able to help. Local animal welfare groups and shelters often offer low-cost vaccinations, spaying and neutering services and other routine care.
JHS Animal Hospital provides affordable, quality care to the public, regardless of income status. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, 8464 Beach Blvd., Southside, jaxhumane.org.
First Coast No More Homeless Pets runs one of the largest spay and neuter clinics in the country and the largest safety-net veterinary hospital in the Southeast. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6817 Norwood Ave., Norwood, fcnmhp.org.
Saint Francis Animal Hospital provides comprehensive veterinary care at a lower cost. 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday & Thursday, 2727 Atlantic Blvd., Arlington, saintfrancisanimalhospital.org.
Clay Humane Clinic offers affordable veterinary treatment, including free cat spaying and neutering services, so that every pet can receive vital care when in need. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, 2230 Filmore St., Orange Park, clayhumane.org.
It is important to consider all available alternatives and helpful resources before deciding to surrender a pet. But, if you believe you are out of options and finding a new home is best for your pet, try re-homing it on your own rather than surrendering it to a facility. You can also visit a no-kill shelter, for assistance.
JHS admits pets by appointment only. The staff can also post a listing on its Community Pets page, at no cost to you. 8464 Beach Blvd., Southside, jaxhumane.org.
COJ Animal Care & Protective Services admits pets by appointment only. 2020 Forest St., Mixon Town, friendsofjaxanimals.com.
Being proactive goes a long way. If you are not facing financial hardship, consider donating funds to your favorite animal shelter or rescue organization to help other animals in need. This is a great way to pay it forward and help those in times of need.