Thousands of needy animals will have full bellies soon thanks to a donation of 17 tons — or 34,400 pounds — of dog and cat food at the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.
Fourteen pallets of Special Kitty cat food and 21 pallets of Sam's Club dog food, which were carried on a big rig from Reno, were delivered to the humane society July 18 from the Rescue Bank, operated by GreaterGood.org.
"What happens in situations like this is they'll get an overstock,” explained John Van Zante, public relations director at the humane society. “The food has a 'best by' date, but it's actually still good for a year after that. Those still won't sell in the stores. They trust us to distribute that food."
The food will then be given to registered, pre-approved San Diego County nonprofit animal rescue organizations, he said.
Van Zante said in San Diego County alone there are more than 200 registered rescue groups.
He said this is one of the largest donations in the center's 57-year history. He estimated the food will provide more than 100,000 meals for dogs and cats in San Diego and surrounding counties.
"Last year, we had two shipments of 38,000 pounds each,” he said. “Those went to rescue groups in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties."
The food is offered free of charge to the nonprofits, but the groups must pay 10 cents per pound they're given to help with shipping costs.
"Ten cents a pound might seem like a lot," Van Zante said. "If you figure a rescue will get six tons of food for about $115, that's a great price."
Greg Westermeyer, a three-year volunteer with the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego, was the first rescuer to arrive July 18. He patiently waited for the organization's chosen 1,200 pounds of dog food.
He said the kibble he gathers will be distributed among the nonprofit's nearly 100 chihuahuas in foster and adoption care.
"It's unfortunate that a lot of dogs are discarded," Westermeyer said. "This [donation] is helpful for people who are stressing out about how they're going to make their ends meet and feed their dog, which can be a family member. We're grateful when this happens because the food goes a long way."
Van Zante said he is happy the humane society can offer this food to the rescues, which mainly rely on donations. This food means more money for medical treatment, foster care, vaccinations, spaying, neutering and other operational costs, he noted.
He said one of his favorite memories was two female rescuers driving away in vans full of dog food.
"You know what this means?" Van Zante recalled one of the ladies saying to the other. "This means we don't have to choose which dogs get to eat tonight. All of them do."
For more information about the Rancho Coastal Humane Society and ways to donate, visit www.rchumanesociety.org.