“No Empty Bowls” for pets means struggling owners keep loved ones

DOWNTOWN JACKSON, Tenn. — RIFA and a local pet organization have teamed up to make sure no pets have empty food bowls. While local food banks in West Tennessee say their goal is to help struggling families put food on the table, this team says they make sure no pets go hungry either. Sunday, dozens of families took advantage of this program that helps struggling families feed their animals. Sara Watkins said without this program, she might take a cut on her own groceries to feed her dogs. Although she struggles paying bills, she said she makes sure her pets are cared for. “I really just can’t afford all the food it takes and i’m just barely making it with the shots,” she said. Watkins signed up for the program called “No Empty Bowls” through RIFA and STAT, or “Saving the Animals Together”. Co-directors Kelli Appleton and Melissa Roberts said the program is to make sure no pet goes hungry or ends up on the street. “We are giving out animal food and treats to families who have fallen on hard times and love their pets and want to be able to keep them,” Appleton said. “We see that going on so much, people falling on hard times, losing their jobs and they’re trying to figure out what can be cut out so they dump them or drop them off, so we’re trying to prevent that,” Roberts said. Watkins said for her, leaving her dogs just is not an option. “I have lupus and they’re just like, you know, my therapy, so when I have the money I buy their food first and try to make sure they’re fed,” Watkins said. From now on, she will go once a month to the stand at RIFA to make sure all five furry mouths are fed. “They gave me a lot they gave me dog food, dog biscuits and canned food, i’m just real pleased,” Watkins explained. S.T.A.T. says it sets up in the RIFA parking lot the second weekend of every month, and it’s free to sign up for the program.

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