WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - More and more local dog and cat owners are having to make a very tough decision: feed their pet or feed their families. Tough times are taking a toll not just on people, but on man's best friend as well.
A job loss or a deep pay cut could mean the difference between being able to feed that pet at home or being forced to turn it over to a shelter, but there is help to keep the family intact.
Tawni Meloy loves her dog, and her dog, 'Baby,' really loves to eat.
Meloy was recently faced with the life-altering choice of feeding herself or feeding her dog.
"I had hard times. I lost my job. I needed help," said Meloy, who was out of work, money, and options. "It's either you or your animal and you don't want to lose your animal."
Meloy was on the verge of turning her dog over to an animal shelter because she was unable to pay for dog food. Then she was put in touch with Angelina Wilson, who is president of Palm Beach County-based Kibblez of Love , a non-profit pet food pantry.
"People are losing jobs, they're going hungry and unfortunately the first thing to go is the pet," said Wilson.
So far in the month of May, Wilson says the organization has given away 3,577 pounds of pet food, free of charge.
The pet food bank partners with the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach. Twice a week, dozens of local dog and cat owners come for the food they need but cannot afford. The partnership's underlying missions are to keep shelters from overcrowding and to keep dogs and cats at home with enough food - and with the people who love them most.
"We can't save every animal, but if it's just food that they need, it's just something so simple that we can do," said Wilson.
Meloy says she now has one less thing to worry about as she, like so many others, continues to struggle financially.
"It's like weights lifted off of your shoulder," she said. "You don't have to worry about it at all."
Participating pet owners must have their animals spayed or neutered. Kibblez Of Love is a donation-based organization, which means it can only provide supplies that are brought in. To learn more about donating or about participating in the pet food bank, click here .