RIPLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Many people across our region struggle to put food on the table. Pets are often forgotten in that struggle as food support programs don't cover furry friends.
The Helping Pawz Pet Pantry is trying to close that gap by making sure no animals go without. Started by Kristie Carr last fall, the pantry provides food, litter and more for dogs and cats in the Jackson County, West Virginia, area.
"To know that when that person walks out of here they are almost in tears, they want to hug us, they want to give us a hug," Carr said. "They thank us, and there is nothing that feels better than knowing that you were able to help that person, no matter what their situation is."
Carr started the pantry with funds out of her own pocket and supplies all the goods through donations. She currently runs two locations out of her grooming salons in Ripley and Ravenswood.
"I've hit hard times," Carr said. "Everybody hits hard times. But just being able to help. I know it is just a small way, but it is a way to help so that's what I love."
The pantry has helped more than 50 families since it started, each with between two and 20 animals they are caring for. Carr never asks how much someone needs help. She just wants them to get the supplies they need, then get home to take care of their pets.
"Before they walk out my door, they look at me and say 'as soon as I get back on my feet I will donate back,'" Carr said. "That is all we ask because if they may not need me at the time or in a couple of months, there are always 10 people to replace that one."
The pantry provides free food, litter, treats, toys, pee pads, sweaters, blankets and leashes. Carr will even deliver supplies for people who can't leave their homes.
"She doesn't ever think about herself," Sue Ann Lockhart said. "It's always others. Whether it be employees, the community or strangers on the street, she's always willing to help anybody with anything she's able to do."
Carr hopes to expand the pantry to more areas and obtain grants to provide additional services.
"We're just a small little business and we just love what we do," Carr said. "We've gotten to know a lot of people through this place, and I wouldn't change what I do for a million years, wouldn't change it for nothing."
Food or money can be donated at Kountry K-9 Groom and Board in Ripley or Kritter Kutz Groom and Board in Ravenswood. Carr will also go anywhere to pick up donations that people are not able to drop off.