Paw It Forward

Pet Food Pantry

“Thank you so much for helping me and my dog. You people are all amazing!” says a middle-aged woman, smiling vibrantly from ear-to-ear on a gloomy early June morning in Hamilton, Ontario. “You have no idea how much this means to me.” It doesn’t take very long to appreciate the magic of VCA Canada’s Pet Food Pantry when you witness the event in action, an initiative that takes place across communities in Canada, as part of VCA’s Paw It Forward program. Paw It Forward puts the community first – driving national, regional and local endeavours. From supporting local humane societies and rescue groups; to enhancing awareness and learning of animal health and welfare issues; to providing food for displaced pets and assisting local families and pets in need, Paw It Forward is VCA Canada’s all-encompassing way of giving back.

Whether it’s running a Pet Food Pantry event in a Canadian community in need, providing funding for patient care in one of their hospitals, responding to emergency and disaster relief or donating to OVC Pet Trust, Paw It Forward and giving back to companion animal health and well-being is embedded into the company’s culture. “At the heart of Paw It Forward is the human-animal bond,” says Darren Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at VCA Canada. Various VCA staff including veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) and administrative staff volunteer their time to run Paw It Forward events across Canada. “We know it is not uncommon for marginalized pet owners to sacrifice their own food for their pets,” Johnson says. “Many times, people will feed their pet before themselves, which really speaks to the human-animal bond.”  

Food products are donated by a variety of companies to support VCA’s Pet Food Pantry event, and over the past five years more than 1.4 million meals have been served to pets whose families are in need. VCA volunteers also regularly visit communities in Vancouver and Toronto to help people that live on the streets with their pets. They give out pet food as well as snacks and gift cards to pet owners to purchase a meal, so they can also take care of themselves. “Ultimately, everything we do to give back is our way of repaying the pets in our lives for all the love they give us. I think that really sums it up,” Johnson says. “Our pets give us so much; it’s the least we can do.” - Best Friends Magazine, Ontario Veterinary College, 2018


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