The Helen Woodward Animal Center will be giving out two-week supplies of dog or cat food starting next week
A California animal center is doing its part to ensure that all pet owners will be able to take care of their animals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Helen Woodward Animal Center announced that starting next week, they will be holding “drive-through” pet food distributions, which will be free of cost for San Diego citizens who have lost their jobs, or have been forced to go without a paycheck, as a result of the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to giving out a two-week supply of dog or cat food per household/animal, cat litter company Naturally Fresh will also be giving away a free 6 lb. bag of cat litter per cat to the first 200 people.
The first week of the new program will take place this coming Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. In order to satisfy social distancing guidelines, appointment times will be scheduled 10 minutes apart, and participants are being told not to leave their vehicle while picking up their food.
All qualified individuals will have to fill out an appointment request form on the shelter’s website in order to participate in the program.
Pending food supply, additional distributions will be scheduled in the following weeks.
“Pets are members of our families too and we want to assist in keeping them fed in this stressful time. Keeping families together, healthy and happy is one way we can help others,” Christen Hanley, the director of outreach services at Helen Woodward Animal Center, said in a press release.
“We’re seeing so many members of our community impacted and we hope that this will bring a little peace to families with pets in this time of need,” Hanley added.
Last year, the Center’s AniMeals program provided nearly 500,000 meals to the pets of San Diego County citizens who were unable to leave their house or purchase pet food.
As Americans are spending more time at home and away from others in an attempt to curb the pandemic, it’s also an ideal time to foster a pet.
“If you don’t have a pet and are thinking about getting one, now is the perfect time to ‘try it on’ by fostering from your local shelter. Shelters and pet adoption facilities nationwide need people to foster pets on a temporary basis,” Julie Castle the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, told PEOPLE.
The choice to foster an animal during this time will also greatly help local shelters, which are likely suffering from a lag in adoptions, as well as an increase in intakes.
The Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Veterinary Medical Association have all stated that pets are not at risk of spreading COVID-19, and science has repeatedly shown that animals help people feel happier and healthier.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.