The line began forming at 7 a.m., even though it was barely light outside. Pet parents, bundled in hoodies and parkas, braved the cold with their companions to participate in Pets for Life Philadelphia’s pet wellness event on November 10th in Hunting Park.

By the time the event began at 10 a.m., the line stretched the length of the park. Volunteers worked quickly, signing up pets for free spay and neuter surgeries, administering vaccinations, performing nail trims, taking registrations for dog training classes and handing out food donated to the program by WellPet. In all, 615 dogs and cats received essential services their owners might otherwise not have had access to. It was, by all accounts, a hugely successful day.

An outreach effort created to empower communities that have limited access to pet health resources because of economic, social, linguistic, or cultural factors, Pets for Life Philadelphia is a program of the Humane Society of the United States. Its goal is not just to serve animals in the city, but also the people who care for them.

“Every client we interact with loves their pet more than life itself,” says Ashley Mutch, Manager of Pets for Life Philadelphia. “We understand that no matter what your background is, where you grew up, where you live now, how much money you make – it doesn’t affect how much we all care for and love our pets.  We not only aim to share information and services with our clients, but to make the bond between owner and pet stronger.”

Mutch, who has led the program since July, says fostering open communication with clients and building their trust in the program have been the keys to Pets for Life Philadelphia’s success.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, she collected donations of food items in addition to the usual pet supplies for a few clients she knew might be struggling to put a warm meal on the table. When the holiday arrived, those families (and their pets) had enough to eat – and another reason to remain connected to the program.

With the December holidays approaching, Pets for Life Philadelphia is again collecting donations to provide meals for families to celebrate over together, along with a few gifts they can share with pets. This “holistic” approach to a holiday donation drive ensures that Pets for Life Philadelphia can make the holidays bright for pets and pet parents, and reinforces the idea that pets are part of the family.

Support Pets for Life and the families they serve by dropping off a donation at the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Erie Ave. headquarters Mondays from 4-8 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or Saturdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.  Below is a list of items requested.

Non Perishable Food:

  • Canned Corn
  • Canned Carrots
  • Canned Peas
  • Canned Green Beans
  • Canned/Bottled Gravy
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Simple Stuffing Mix (Stove Top, etc.)
  • Canned Cranberry Sauce

Servingware:

  • Microwavable Containers for food transport (Gladware type)
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Napkins
  • Bags for food transport (leftover grocery bags, etc.)

Pet Items:

  • Unused Dog Toys
  • Unused Dog Beds (any size)
  • Unused Collars/Leashes (any size)
  • Unused Dog sweaters, Jackets, Bandanas, etc. (any size)
  • Unused Cat Toys
  • Unused Litter Boxes
  • Unopened Boxes/Bags of Litter
  • Unused Scratching Posts, Scratching Boxes
  • Unused Cat Collars
  • Unused/Unopened Cat/Dog Food and Treats

The collection of non-perishable food items will end Wednesday December 19th; collection of all other items will end January 16th.

Please consider donating to the drive over the next couple of weeks; a simple act of kindness can help Pets for Life Philadelphia continue to bring life-changing resources to your neighbors, and help them feel the warmth of the pet-loving community they are a part of. By embracing the human component of the human-animal equation, the Pets for Life program is helping to create a more compassionate, more robust community of pet parents in Philadelphia.

Want to get involved? Learn about Pets for Life Philadelphia volunteer opportunities here.