Coast pets facing thin meals as their owners struggle to pay bills and keep food on the table have a new guardian angel: pet food bank creator Bronwen Jorel.
"Wherever you live on the Sunshine Coast, there's a dog or cat not too far away whose dinner tonight is likely to be plain boiled rice," Jorel said. "Why? Because that's all their owner is having for dinner."
Jorel, who lost her beloved 17-year-old dog Brady this spring, has kicked off a pet food bank program in Brady' memory: Brady's Basket.
Jorel said when Brady died in late May, she asked his many friends to donate pet food to the Food Bank in his memory. That gesture got her thinking about a more lasting legacy for her pet - a rescue dog of indeterminate breeds, whom she remembers fondly as "the ugliest thing on four legs." Making a few calls - including to cat rescue Happy Cat Haven and the Salvation Army's Harvest of Hope Food Bank in Gibsons - she said she discovered that there was a "definite need" for pet food donations in the community.
Matthew Hardman, who runs the Harvest of Hope Food Bank and now distributes the donations made to Brady's Basket, said that many people who rely on the Food Bank have pets - primarily dogs - and are happy to see pet food on his shelves.
"As much pet food as I get, I can move it." Hardman said.
Since Brady's Basket started up in early summer - with donation bins outside the SuperValu in Sunnycrest Mall, at Quality Farm & Garden Supply Ltd. on Pratt Road, and at Gibsons Pet Food & Supplies in Gibsons Park Plaza - Hardman says his once "spotty" pet food donations have become more consistent.
Jorel said that while for now Brady's Basket operates only in Gibsons, "simply because everyone in Gibsons knew Brady," she hopes to see the pet food bank idea take off and spread elsewhere on the Coast.