Fuzzy future

When Julie McFarland found out her non-profit organization may have to relocate from its 16 E. Howard St. location in Dunkirk, she was shocked.

Now, the possibility has become reality.

On Wednesday the building was sold at public auction to settle the estate of Bill Radloff. The new owner, Michael Porpiglia, won the bid for the building at $19,000.

The Pet Pantry has been helping financially strapped pet owners feed and care for their animals since 2008, and has been at its Howard Street location since 2010.

“We wanted the building so we wouldn’t have to move. We don’t know at this point, anything, what’s going to happen. I’m assuming we’ll have to move,” McFarland said in a phone interview on Friday,

The closing could take place as soon as Nov. 15.

This isn’t the first time the Pet Pantry has had to move. It used to operate on the corner of Main and Fifth streets but the building was demolished to free up additional parking space for Brooks Memorial Hospital.

“As of right now we don’t know where we’re going,” McFarland said.

Earlier in October, the pantry sought help from the public.

“We were soliciting donations to help with bidding on the building. Right now there isn’t much the community can do unless someone knows of a building we can go to,” McFarland said.

She thanked donors for their help, though, and spoke positively of the future.

“The community of donors has really stepped up and come through for us. We got a lot of donations in the past two weeks and hopefully we’re going to put that towards something. Maybe we’ll find a place that’s better. (The building) needed a lot of work but it suited our purposes. It was perfect for what we were doing. It was set up perfectly,” she said.

The pantry helps clients with roughly half of their pets’ needs each month with food. McFarland said she was inspired to start the pantry when she saw a similar operation highlighted in the Buffalo News five years ago.

“We service all of Chautauqua County. Clients who fall below federal poverty guidelines, they become our customers,” she said.

Much of their help comes from people who donate items after their pets pass away, such as leashes, collars and food bowls. Also, community members often donate food and kitty litter.

“What happens now, we just have to wait and see, I guess. I’m being proactive and looking. I don’t want to be blindsided again,” McFarland said.

She mentioned that she and the Pantry’s board of directors are doing whatever they can in order to continue to raise money for the operation. “We’re in the process of selling tickets to raffle handmade quilts. We do fundraisers year round. I think we’re making a difference, at least with the pet population.”

The Pantry has helped over 500 families in both northern and southern Chautauqua County. Currently, there are at least 250 active clients receiving the pantry’s services, according to McFarland. She also said the pantry has spayed and/or neutered over 225 cats and dogs in the area, “which has prevented an immeasurable number of litters of homeless and unwanted animals.”

Porpiglia could not be reached for comment regarding the matter.

For further information or to donate to the Pet Pantry, contact McFarland directly at 785-5183.