1,500 pounds of pet food donated to Watauga Humane Society to offset changes because of COVID-19

Gianna Holiday, Reporter

Watauga Humane Society, The Pet Place and Southeast Pet joined together to deliver 1,500 pounds of pet food to the humane society, where over 150 homeless animals sheltered need food, care and resources.

“We are so very lucky to have an excellent relationship with a local business like The Pet Place that constantly works to serve the needs of homeless animals in Watauga County,” said Nick Eichen, volunteer coordinator.

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Watauga Humane Society closed on March 17.

Sandy and Jeff Yarchin, owners of pet supply shop The Pet Place, located a pet food distributor willing to sell a pallet of pet food at a very reduced price. The Yarchins matched the Humane Society’s contribution and organized the delivery.

“A few weeks ago, we were able to get 1,500 pounds of food for an extremely great price,” Yarchin said. “We reached out to Watauga Humane Society to see if they wanted it, and they did. We facilitated the purchase and split the cost.”

Watauga Humane Society board member Monique Eckerd said that they always need cleaning supplies, paint and monetary donations. Eckerd arranged the donation on behalf of the Humane Society.

“We work regularly with the humane societies in Watauga, Avery and Ashe as well as Partners! Canine. We rotate donations and fundraisers between these four locations,” said Sandy Yarchin, co-owner of The Pet Place. 

There were 125 animals adopted or fostered last month when the humane society announced it would temporarily close.

Pet care during the time of the COVID-19 has changed due to a lack of workers and volunteers, who are encouraged to stay home and social distance.

“Our staff quickly focused our efforts on utilizing social media to encourage members of our community to consider fostering or adopting an animal,” Eichen said.

Watauga Humane Society has instituted new protocols such as bathing each animal after intake and foster return. Face masks, made by Spay/Neuter is a Positive Solution, are provided to each staff member and worn when interacting with the public.

While volunteers are not able to currently help in their normal capacity, they are encouraged to foster or adopt animals.

“Getting animals into foster homes has simplified daily animal care considerably,” Eichen said. “However, staff is still hard at work. We’ve been utilizing the extra time to focus on animal enrichment, spring cleaning projects and our social media presence in order to stay connected with our community during social distancing.”

The humane society’s pet food pantry is also open to help those who are in need and may not be able to afford pet food.

Eckerd said that the humane society applied for several grants and the Small Business Loan program through the recently-passed CARES Act.

Watauga Humane Society announced two weeks ago that the PetCo Foundation awarded it a $5,000 grant to support spay/neuter surgeries for shelter animals and defray the cost for low-income community members to get their pets fixed.

“We have had a tremendous response for fostering during this time, so many shelter pets are spending the stay-at-home with a loving family,” Eckerd said. “While these pets may be returned to the shelter later, they are spending time in a family environment, which will make them more adoptable when we reopen.”