For the majority of people experiencing homelessness in the Greater Victoria area, finding enough food to get by is a daily struggle. And it only gets harder when they have a pet to feed.
But a local non-profit is working to provide food for pet owners who are experiencing homelessness or living in emergency shelters—including those at Camp Namegans in Regina Park.
Founded in 2012, the Victoria Pet Food Bank (originally called the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society) provides a centralized pet food source, as well as direct deliveries, for the street community and low-income households.
The program, known as the Boneless Project, initially operated out of Our Place Society before moving to the Salvation Army’s Stan Haggen Center for Families, and to Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Rock Bay Landing and Mount Edwards Court. But after six years, the group realized the majority of the pet owners they helped didn’t live in shelters.
“So, we started to create our own database to facilitate the street community members to text us directly when they need us,” writes co-founder Margarita Dominguez in a Facebook message. “In this way, we have direct access with them and with the pets’ needs instead of just leaving the food in a front desk.”
Bosley’s in Royal Oak, Creature Pets Store, Mr. Pet’s in Tillicum Mall, Paws on Cook Street, Wiskers & Waggs in Sooke, and Charmaine’s Past & Present Furniture on Fort Street all offer drop-off bins for pet food, which is then gathered by the Victoria Pet Food Bank to be given out.
Pet food bank supports Regina Park tent city residents
Many of the project’s benefactors live in Camp Namegans, the tent city located at Regina Park in Saanich. Dominguez estimates there are eight to 10 pets located at the camp.
She says the Boneless Project visits the camp every Wednesday.
In a Facebook post Thursday, Dominguez criticized media coverage of the city, claiming that it has been overly negative.
“Please, do not listen to negative comments and go to tent city yourselves. Take some food and water bottles for these poor people who have nowhere to go. We have been talking to some of them and they are all very sad and exhausted. They need help,” the post reads.
Dominguez told Victoria Buzz that pets are all that many in the street community have, and hopes people will consider empathy for those who have less.
In the meantime, she and the Victoria Pet Food Bank will continue doing everything they can to support the homeless community both in and outside of Regina Park.
Says Dominguez, “If we don’t point out the things that are wrong, nothing changes.”
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