The circumstances weren’t great, but the timing was perfect.
Two weeks ago, Scout Bagley was let go from her job at a local coffee shop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia and the U.S. has seen record numbers of unemployment insurance claims since the outbreak began, so the Forsyth County resident knew she wasn’t the only one suddenly out of work.
In the face of that, Bagley decided the time was right to take her long-standing dream of starting a food pantry for pets and put it into action.
A week later, Kibble2Care was born to help low-income residents provide food and other essentials for their pets.
“When everything started happening, people started losing their jobs, I figured I should just go for it,” Bagley said.
Bagley got the effort off the ground with a simple website, where pet owners apply for assistance and others can make donations, and a Facebook page for promotion and communication.
For now, Bagley is making contactless porch pick-ups of donations and porch drop-offs of food to qualified pet owners herself. In the future, when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, she plans to hold traditional food drives on Saturdays.
Bagley has already been busy: Kibble2Care has helped a total of 10 cats and 13 dogs between seven families in Dawson and Forsyth counties.
“I really didn’t expect it to blow up within a week,” Bagley said. “It’s kind of been overwhelming.”
Bagley became an animal lover when she was 16 and took in a dog, a black lab mix she named Chevy, that was being neglected.
“I was going through a lot at that time,” Bagley said, “and he kind of just lifted my spirits and honestly changed who I was as a person.”
Bagley quickly plugged into the animal care field. She’s worked at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter, local veterinarian offices and most recently a local dog training facility. She was a fast learner and developed deep bonds with the animals.
“When I leave work, I don’t just leave work,” Bagley said. “I’ll think about the dogs there all night.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic led to layoffs and underemployment, Bagley knew there would be a need for short-term assistance for pets. Animal care becomes less of a priority during tough economic conditions, and Georgia has pretty high owner surrender rates, particularly in rural areas, Bagley said. Nearby counties have their own pet food pantries, but they require pet owners to meet strict income level requirements and limit service to within their county borders.
Bagley decided to make Kibble2Care less strict so assistance is more accessible. Pet owners still have to fill out a 12-question application. To qualify for assistance, pet owners must be 18 years of age or older, have owned their pet for at least six months and provide their pet with “a healthy environment and living conditions.” Kibble2Care provides up to a month’s worth of food for each pet in a household.
“I know from personal experience that sometimes you need just a little bit of help until the next paycheck,” Bagley said.
She added, “I don’t want anyone to ever have to think about giving up their animals for any reason.”