In need of help

An organization that has helped prevent an infinite number of cat and dog litters from overpopulating Chautauqua County and has fed needy pets of financially strapped owners finds itself in need of help.

The Pet Pantry, opened in 2008, is currently operating out of a commercial-style building at 16 E. Howard St. in Dunkirk. The pantry and its staff of volunteers were relocated there after the now-demolished church building on the corner of Main and Fifth streets was sold to free up additional parking space for Brooks Memorial Hospital and they were forced out of that location. After noticing a representative taking pictures of the Howard Street building’s exterior recently, Pantry Board member Judy Morris inquired about his presence and was told the building was being advertised to be sold at a public auction on Oct. 16.

Pantry operator Julie McFarland maintains that the desire of Pantry volunteers to remain centrally located in the city is imperative since a large percentage of their clientele live in the Dunkirk vicinity and have no other means of transportation than to walk to pick up their food supply.

The building is part of the Bill Radloff estate and McFarland can’t see how the building would be attractive to another buyer given that it needs a new roof and gutters, and is basically customized to be a machine shop setting.

The Pantry, which is a 501 c3 non profit organization and is governed and operated by a board of directors, does wish to purchase the building at auction to maintain their location in Dunkirk. Time is of the essence for the pantry to find a permanent solution since the public auction is scheduled only a few short weeks away.

“It’s difficult to say what it will go for, it really just depends what happens at the tax auction. I know the minimum bid starts at $5,000, but we would really like to be able to purchase it and keep our present location,” stated McFarland.

The Pantry is currently seeking donations of any kind to assist them with the purchase of the building and is open to any fundraising efforts that could prevent them from being displaced. Currently, volunteers are selling chances for a quilt raffle, as well as daily NY Lotto draws based on the December lottery numbers and are hoping to attend any holiday craft shows in the area to seek donations. Donations can also be given to the Pantry by contacting McFarland directly at 785-5183.

“We have helped over 500 families at one point, in both northern and southern Chautauqua County. Right now, we have at least 250 active clients receiving our services and we are the only operation in existence like this in our region of Western New York. Not only do we serve those 250 pet owners, but we have spayed and/or neutered over 225 cats and dogs in this area which has prevented an immeasurable number of litters of homeless and unwanted animals. We’re helping the community the best way we can and hopefully the community will step up and assist us at this time,” McFarland said.