CINCINNATI — Bentley is a survivor. Thrown over a cliff in Lexington, Kentucky last month, the puppy was rescued when a family walking by just happened to hear his cries.
After a rescue group brought Bentley and his siblings to the United Coalition of Animals non-profit pet clinic in Camp Washington, manager Jessica Klaers said it was love at first sight.
“I just fell in love with him right away, and after hearing his story, it was all the more reason to love him,” Klaers said.
Bentley's story isn’t a rare one during the pandemic. Many people aren’t able to care for their pets and are having to abandon them or turn them over to shelters due to financial stress.
Klaers' employer, United Coalition for Animals, or UCAN, is doing everything it can to help financially-strapped pet owners get the food and medical care they need for their animals during National Pet Week.
"We did find during COVID we had many requests for people who needed pet food,” said UCAN Executive Director Melanie Corwin. “They were struggling. Many people were laid off, so today we are launching our pet food pantry."
Monday through Thursday this week from 11 a.m. to noon, pet owners who are struggling financially can come to UCAN on Colerain Avenue to pick up food for their pets. This is an extension of UCAN's already available pet food pantry that is open to income-qualifying pet owners.
Pet owner Beverly Mallaley came to get help with her two Australian shepherds.
"When you don't have a lot of money, everything helps,” Mallaley.
Also starting Monday, UCAN is expanding its pet-care clinic and offering $40 wellness visits for dogs and cats. Families who live at or below 200% of the poverty level are eligible for the program.
Corwin said the food pantry and the medical assistance programs both have the same main objective: to keep pets and their owners together.
"It helps with anxiety and depression, autism and things like that,” Corwin said. “So when they say I have this beloved pet and I don't want to send it to a shelter because I can't afford to treat this medical condition or I can't afford to buy food for it, that's what we're here for, and it's incredible to be able to say, 'Yes, we can help you.'"
To find out if you're eligible for these services, call 513-538-1750, or visit UCANwellness.org.