By Galen Patterson
Wonder Dog Ranch delivered hundreds of pet-related gifts donated to the Foothill Unity Center’s Pet Food Bank this holiday season as part of the Santa Paws program.
The gifts total 255 dogs-related items and 150 cat-related items, which are distributed by the Foothill Unity Center to clients that have pets.
The Santa Paws program is Wonder Dog Ranch’s holiday donation campaign. It takes in animal-related items and delivers them, gift wrapped and ready to be opened, to the pet food bank at the Foothill Unity Center for distribution.
These items are species-specific and range from toys to treats. In addition to the donated gifts, Wonder Dog Ranch also offers animal-friendly gift wrapping, made from soy-based ink and paper, allowing pets to unwrap them without consuming regular wrapping paper.
Wonder Dog Ranch manages to gift wrap all the presents with the help of volunteers who enjoy working with animals.
Nearly 700 different clients take advantage of the pet food bank annually, to help ease the cost of pet care. All of these clients are already being assisted by the Foothill Unity Center’s services, which provides them with basic necessities.
Historically, the food assistance some of these clients received was not enough to feed both the humans and pets. Foothill Unity Center began a separate pet food bank to fix this, partnering with various local organizations, like Wonder Dog Ranch and Unleashed by Petco, while accepting a large donation from Ellen DeGeneres, who noticed the lack of pet food in the Foothill Community Center. “Everything we do is through donation,” says Gloria Huss, Chairperson of the Pet Food Bank. The Pet Food Bank opened in 2010. ”Since then, we’ve been raising money and buying pet food,” says Huss.
“We firmly believe that animal care is part of families,” says Brenda Trainor of Wonder Dog Ranch. Trainor is the mastermind and executive force behind the Santa Paws program.
Clients of the Foothill Unity Center that have pets are representative of the larger pet-owning population. Families with dogs and cats are sometimes keeping those animals as companions for their children.
“For some of these people, their pet is their only companion,” says an employee of Wonder Dog Ranch.
The pet food bank does not subtract from the support the Foothill Unity Center provides to other families. Instead, it is “totally dependent upon the donations of the people,” says Trainor. Private residents can donate through designated collection points, like Wonder Dog Ranch and veterinary clinics in the area. Major grocery stores have also been known to donate damaged pet food.