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A helping hand for needy paws

Shelter manager Cassandra Conroy (left) and staff member Emma Pribyl tend to Tabitha, a current resident at the Humane Society. Tabitha is currently available for adoption. Photo courtesy the Humane Society of Goodhue County

For many, a pet is a therapist, an exercise buddy, a home security system and a best friend. Simply, they are a part of the family. But what happens when you can't afford to buy their food? Some say if you can't feed your pet, you should get rid of them. But for someone already under significant pressure, is losing a part of the family really the best option?

For people suffering temporary setbacks, there is an alternative to heartbreak: The Food Shelf at the Humane Society of Goodhue County.

"Pets are an important part of people's lives," shelter manager Cassandra Conroy said. "We want pets to be fed and cared for regardless of the owner's economic status."

Typically, the Food Shelf serves about 20 people — and their pets — each month. Individuals can request food for their pets up to five times a year.

Gratitude and relief are two common emotions after receiving assistance.

"People are usually pretty private about receiving help, but there are times I've gotten hugs when I give out the food," assistant shelter manager Elaine Morgan said.

According to Morgan, the program plays an important role for all of Red Wing.

"For the people who use it, they have the peace of mind that their animals have the food they need," she said. "For the community, it means animals are not left to roam free without food."

For over ten years, the Food Shelf has fed the bellies of hungry cats and dogs.

"We have an ability to help support people and their pets," Conroy said. "The program fits perfectly with our mission."

The Food Shelf is stocked using the Humane Society's regular food supply. HSGC regularly receives donations from Chuck & Don's, Target, Econofoods, Walmart and Runnings, as well as from individuals. The Humane Society first makes sure all of their resident animals are cared for, but any left over gets set aside for the Food Shelf.

"We want to make sure all of the generous contributions we receive go to animals that need them," Conroy noted.

Marcy Dowse, interim director for the Humane Society, stressed the importance of the community's kindness. Donations from businesses, organizations and individuals ensure healthy, happy animals at the Humane Society and throughout Red Wing.

"That's good for pet owners in need and the community as a whole," Dowse said.

For more information on the Food Shelf and the Humane Society of Goodhue County, visit

In order to receive assistance from the Food Shelf, individuals must come in person to the Humane Society, 1213 Brick Ave. in Red Wing. Any Goodhue County resident can receive food, but they must present a government-issued ID.