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Calgary pet charity overwhelmed with coronavirus requests for help

Parachutes for Pets requests for supplies have skyrocketed from those who are self-quarantined and facing financial challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Parachutes for Pets is Calgary charity that subsidizes costs for pet owners who are low-income, homeless, or in a pinch.

As a result of the coronavirus keeping people indoors, requests for aid have spiked, said Melissa David, founder of Parachute for Pets.

“We typically get a lot of senior [clients] that have mobility issues and bring hampers for the pets to their homes. Now, that people are supposed to stay inside the [requests] have magnified by a thousand.”

Hampers are filled with items, such a diet-specific food for all animals, interactive toys, and medicine for all different types of pets.

In the past week, David said that their requests for pet supply delivery have jumped from 25 people a week to approximately 200.

“We’ve seen a large increase in bunnies, so we have had to do some additional learning about different animals,” she said.

David said that requests have been mostly coming from people who have lost their jobs or those who have had to isolate and don’t have the option to leave their home.

“If you have money, you can call places and order stuff with your credit card, but right now that’s not an option for a lot of people,” David said.

‘If it wasn’t for them our cat might not be here right now.’

Kevin Kosik was laid-off two months ago and was in the process of getting unemployment insurance when his cat, Turd, was having health issues. He reached out to Parachute for Pets.

“Like a lot of households, we live paycheque-to-paycheque and we were having some issues with our cat and we weren’t sure where to turn, because there really wasn’t any that would take a look at her. We didn’t even have the funds for the initial consultation,” he said.

Kosik heard about Parachute for Pets on the radio and reached out to them.

“They helped pay for 80 per cent of the bill. If it wasn’t for them our cat might not be here right now. Basically, they pulled us through a really tough time in our life,” he said.

Service going contactless due to coronavirus

Due to coronavirus, Parachutes for Pets has made their services completely contactless, from suppliers to client, said David.

“We would love to go in homes and chat, especially with the seniors, but now we’ll just leave [supplies] on clients’ front doors and call them to tell them that it’s there,” she said.

“We sanitize everything we can, just to make sure we’re doing everything in our control when we pass it off.”

David said that Parachutes for Pets also helped subsidize costs for animals to go to veterinary clinics, but are now challenged because many clinics have set strict rules on who can make visits. Some clinics have suspended their help with non-for-profits to focus on their regular clientele.

The Animal Clinic on 9 Avenue in the downtown told LiveWire Calgary that all patients who are otherwise healthy, but have appointments for vaccines or check-ups, are going to be taken-in when the coronavirus subsides. Right now, they’re focused on animals that need immediate help.

However, David said that they’re hopeful to get all their requests from clients fulfilled.

“People have always come through for helping us,” she said.

Tracy Ruzicka, registered veterinary technologist at the Bow Bottom clinic, said Bow Bottom has donated supplies in times of need to Parachute for Pets, and they plan on continuing to do so.

“There is a need for subsidy services like [Parachute for Pets], especially in times like this,” she said.

“I was impressed with [Melissa’s] plan, especially when it came to helping the homeless [pet owners].”