On Tuesday, SAF executive director and founder Jennifer Webb was notified by her landlords, Darryl and Judy Adams, that they would need to leave their rent-free space. Webb said the non-profit already has begun contacting its board of directors, city council members and other business officials via e-mail asking for ideas as to where it can continue its work.
“We don’t have anything yet,” she said. “This came down yesterday afternoon that we’re told we need to find a new place.”
Currently, SAF operates at 1430 Keystone Ave. Webb estimated the facility at 600 square feet. She added that the volunteer-based organization will need at least 750 square feet for its new location.
On its busiest days, volunteers help about 30 people with food. Having a place from which to distribute allows SAF to operate five days a week, which is important for those who need the food on a regular basis.
“We have a huge database of people who come in, so we’re very concerned with people who come in every day and rely on us,” Webb said. “We had an electrician who had a Dalmatian who drank Decon (disinfectant) and he lost his job, so he’s been coming in for a year. When he found a job, he came in and said, ‘You won’t be seeing me any more.’ “It’s the good, decent people who stuff happens to and they’re able to keep fairly positive,” Webb added. “By listening to people, you can tell they would not be able to keep their pets (without our help).”
SAF receives pallets of food from Mars Pet Food, PetSmart distribution center and others. Some companies give bags that are damaged while others just want to be generous.
That food is given to pet owners via a phone coordinator, who plans out bag deliveries to the homes of those who can’t access the Keystone location on their own.
“We have someone who lives behind the facility who is just devastated and another woman who lives around the block,” Webb said. “This is not just for that community, but for an awful lot of people who don’t have anything but public transportation. There are an awful lot of people in need at this point. One of the challenges is wherever we’re based, we want it to be easily accessible. The worst case scenario is we don’t have a place to distribute food.”
SAF began in January 2004 and has been in its Keystone space for about a year and a half, Webb said.
Judy Adams declined to comment about asking SAF to leave, citing legal reasons. Apart from a physical facility, Webb said the group is always seeking more volunteers and members to expand its board of 10 to help with various tasks.
“We’re always looking for more people who want to work events and man tables,” she said. “We have one woman who is designated as a pet taxi volunteer.”
Webb said the board and volunteers hope the community will step forward and offer a place that will also be rent-free so the organization can continue to direct its funding toward helping pet owners who can’t pay their veterinarian bills.
“Sometimes we’re the only option,” Webb said. “We really need to be able to put the money into an emergency vet bill.”
For more information, visit www.shakespeareanimalfund.org.