MURRELLS INLET (WBTW) – If it's a good Monday morning, that means Tabitha Custer and her brother, Steve Donahue, have a lot of pet food cans and bags to sort.
The two, along with many other Donahue family members, operate Keep Our Pets Food Bank, the only pet food-only food bank in this part of South Carolina.
“From September to December, we helped 61 families,” said Custer. “In January alone, we added 19 new clients.”
The client families have to apply, and meet certain criteria: the food bank will only help two pets per family, will not help feral cats, and will only help pets that are spayed or neutered. Also, it will not provide assistance unless a family can show proof that it is needy (on disability or some form of assistance or unemployed.)
“I know people who had $70,000 jobs who now have nothing,” said Custer. “They've had their pets eight or nine years, and they were able to take care of them. Something happened that they no longer can.”
The food bank first opened last year, after Tabitha's mother, Linda Donahue–long associated with Coastal Animal Rescue–saw the need for families who needed assistance with pet food costs (instead of giving up their pets altogether). Linda was diagnosed with cancer not long after, and died just a few months later. Tabitha and her family took over in September.
“She was a very special person,” said Custer of her mother. “They called her 'Mighty Mouse.'”
“It feels good,” she said of running the food bank. “To be able to know that people are at home at night with their pets, and their pets aren't at the shelters, it feels really good.”
Keep Our Pets Food Bank can receive donations at 4764 U.S. Highway 17 Bypass South in Murrells Inlet on Mondays from 10:00 a.m. until noon, Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
For more information, you can call (843) 651-0778.