‘Santa’ loves animals too

Published 6:20 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

WINDSOR – Local pet owners can benefit from the efforts of Companion Animal Advocates of Bertie (CAABertie).

Volunteers with that recently formed organization installed their first three Pet Pantry locations throughout Bertie County on Dec. 17. They hope the addition of this community resource helps local families keep their pets healthy this holiday season.

The pet food pantries follow the Little Free Pantry philosophy of “give what you can, take what you need.” This model allows residents to access emergency food for their pets during an economic crisis, taking what supplies they need when they need them. It also encourages supporters to drop off supplies at any convenient time and knowing that all donations stay within the local community.

“Rising grocery and home heating costs place pets at risk as pet owners struggle to decide whether they can afford to keep their pets and feed their families and heat their homes,” stated Deborah Tayloe, CAABertie media coordinator. “Because the local animal shelter is an outdoor facility with only 10 kennels, Companion Animal Advocates of Bertie will save lives by alleviating pet abandonment and surrenders by pet owners who cannot afford kibble this holiday season and beyond.”

Bertie Commissioner Ronald “Ron” Roberson sponsored this CAABertie Pet Pantry that is now open in Askewville. Contributed Photo

CAABertie accepts donations of pet food, which the public can drop off directly in any of the tree pantries. The following are the three current locations:

Powellsville Pet Clinic, 306 NC Hwy 42 (between Colerain and Powellsville);

Town of Kelford, 106 Main Street (behind the Fire Department); and

Town of Askewville, 109 Askewville Street.

Additional planned sites include the Merry Hill Fire Department and Windsor (site TBD). A formal ribbon cutting event will be held after the shop class finishes and the installation is complete.

Each of three recently opened pet pantries is ready to serve the public and fully stocked, thanks to a pet food drive hosted by the Ridgecroft School BETA Club, which collected hundreds of pounds of pet food last month

CAABertie will eventually have at least five pet pantry sites spread throughout the county. Two pantries are being built by the Bertie High School CTE/shop class under the guidance of teacher Brian Dail. The current three pantries were built by local volunteer Randy Tayloe of Aulander. An avid woodworking hobbyist, Tayloe explains that he saw the need for an extra pair of hands to move the project forward, so he spent his Thanksgiving vacation building pet pantry cabinets.

“I love animals and just wanted to do the right thing to help,” he stated.

The Bertie County community has been pivotal in launching this effort. County Commissioners John Trent and Ronald Roberson each sponsored the construction of a pet pantry for $200. Volunteers from Lawrence Academy plan to serve as stewards of a future-planned pet pantry near their campus. The community at-large generously donates whenever their volunteers attend public events.

“We are truly blessed to have a tremendous outpouring of love from pet owners locally and outside of Bertie,” said Beth Northcott, CAABertie founder and President.

During 2023, CAABertie plans to continue focusing on the prevention of animal abandonment, including forming a non-profit organization to educate the public on kindness to animals and pet health. They also intend to continue to press the Bertie County Commissioners to participate in the NC SPAN (NC Spay and Neuter) program.

“The money to help low-income residents with spaying and neutering is available through the General Assembly; however, the county must implement and administer the program as only counties can claim the funds,” Northcott explained. “We will continue our advocacy efforts tirelessly and be the voice of companion animals.”

Founded as an ad-hoc committee by the Bertie Commissioners in 2022 after recognizing the many abused and neglected companion animals in the area, Companion Animal Advocates of Bertie hopes to increase responsible pet ownership within the county. The citizen-powered movement includes a small but expanding group of volunteers who want to see better living conditions for companion animals.

You can connect with CAABertie to donate funds to help re-stock the pet pantries or learn about their mission by messaging the group on Facebook @CAABertie or learn more online at caabertie.org.