Most of us are well aware of the significant challenges facing a family that’s suffered a job loss or other setback, but have you ever thought about how such a crisis might also affect a family pet?The folks at Wesley Mission Center have, and as a result, Mansfield’s furriest residents now have a place in the social service safety net in the form of the charity’s new pet food pantry, an expansion of the traditional food pantry program, sponsored by the center and by First United Methodist Church, the group’s parent organization.“The goal of the program is to better support families in crisis by making sure that the food we give to them is used for human consumption, and to keep people with the animals who are important members of their families,” said Teresa Washington, program director for the Wesley Mission Center. “Mansfield is a big pet-owner city,” she went on. “There are people who would rather sleep on the street than go to a shelter, if the shelter won’t take their pet, too. This program helps keep families and animals together, and maintains a sense of normalcy that families need in times of crisis.”The Mansfield pet food program kicked off earlier this month with support from project partners Petco and Don’t Forget to Feed Me, a Fort Worth-based charity that supplies pet food to local food pantries. “Working with Wesley Mission Center is a natural fit for Don’t Forget to Feed Me,” said Michael Parker, the group’s president. “Petco in Mansfield has been a partner of ours for a long time, and Wesley Mission Center’s establishment in the community allows us to provide this often-overlooked part of family stability quickly and seamlessly.”Mansfield pet owners in need of assistance can pick up pet food during the food pantry’s regular hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, or via services obtained through the case management provided by Wesley Mission Center counselors. Since the 1980s, Wesley Mission Center has offered basic needs assistance, referrals and job training to Mansfield residents in need. In 2012, the organization provided more than $100,000 in cash assistance and distributed about 2,000 food bags. As in the case of their core programs, the center will rely heavily upon donations from the community and from volunteers to keep the pet food pantry doors open. “This program is also an opportunity for families who are doing well or enjoying stability,” Washington said. “If pets are their passion, it’s a chance to help other pet owners in a time of need.”
Wesley Mission Center, 777 N. Walnut Creek Drive, provides food, clothing, medical care, job training, cash for housing costs and pet food for individuals and families in need. For help, call (817) 473-6650. Make a donation or apply for pet food pantry volunteer service via http://www.firstmethodistmansfield.org/serve/wesley-mission-center. Donations of sealed, unopened pet food may also be dropped off at the center between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays.