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Pets 101

Local Hero – Helping Families, Pets Hit Hard By Economy

Kimberly Carrier and the Pet ProjectProgram helping families keep pets through tough economy

The economy has, in some way or another, taken its toll on everyone — a family’s home foreclosed, a car repossessed, a parent laid off from work — but often times the effects of the economy on family pets is overlooked.

That’s where Kimberly Carrier and the Pet Project come in. In July of 2009, Carrier had seen enough. “Too many people are forced, because they can’t afford the cost, to give up their pet and that’s not right,” she said.

The Pet Project helps people in the Twin Cities area keep their pets by providing pet food and basic supplies to those who are struggling. It also provides connections to basic veterinary care and information on finding pet-friendly housing.

“The times have been tough on everyone,” Carrier said. “But when you think of struggling families, you think homes, cars, jobs and the effect on the children — you don’t think pets. But a lot of pet guardians have been forced, due to their financial situation, to give up their pet and that isn’t fair to the family or the animal, and that’s why we are here.”

Carrier said that good pet guardians have deep connections with their pets. And anyone who has ever lived with an animal knows that they give as much — if not more — than they take. She said that under no circumstance should a pet be lost due to poverty or unexpected life situations.

In the Twin Cities — just as they are across the nation — shelters are over-crowded and underfunded, Carrier said.

She added that the best option for these pets and these families is for them to have a resource, like the Pet Project, to help them while times are tough.

It has been just shy of three years, and with more than 100 volunteers, the Pet Project has helped hundreds of families, and paid the veterinary bills for more than 300 dogs. But with a lack of funding, and only private donations, the Pet Project is struggling to meet the demand.

“The need is growing, and as people continue to find out about our program, the requests continue to go up,” Carrier said. “We really need financial support and funding, this is something that not only the animals need, but the families as well.”

Carrier, who has two dogs of her own, Bella and Rosie, hopes that future grant applications will help foot the bill, and said she intends on making the Pet Project not just a statewide effort, but a nationwide program.

“I really feel like this has set the tone and direction for my life,” she said. “It feels like I am doing what I am supposed to be — we have over 100 people who don’t get paid a dime, but when you see how grateful the people are and know you are saving dogs’ lives, there is just not better reason to do this.

We believe that the way we treat the least fortunate among us, those with the quietest voices, those with the least power, and those who reach their hands out for help is what defines us as a society.”

For more information visit The Pet Project at ThePetProjectMN.org

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