— Pamela Roth
When Margarita Dominguez’s daughter moved to Victoria a few years ago, she couldn’t help but notice all the homeless people with pets.
Being an animal lover who was already providing food for pets across Greater Victoria, Dominguez banded together with her family to begin the Boneless Project in 2012 — a program that provides pet food for owners experiencing homelessness, living in emergency shelters or going through financial difficulties.
The project has since become Dominguez’s passion. Not only does she collect, pack and deliver the weeks worth of food in zip lock bags to shelters and anyone in need, she also collects clothing since she can’t bare the thought of a dog shivering outside in the cold.
“I cry when I talk about this,” said Dominguez, who left her home when she was 16 after her mother didn’t want a dog in the house.
“The cats and dogs are the only family some people have.”
The society has launched several pet food banks in downtown Victoria and Sooke, and is the only registered group to offer a reliable food source for the pets living on the streets.
The first pet food bank opened in January 2013 and operated out of the Our Place Society. Two years later, it moved to the Victoria Cool Aid Society, which allows pets inside its facilities.
Erin Gallagher, volunteer administrator with the Rock Bay Landing shelter, said there are between five to 10 animals staying there at any given time. The animals are typically dogs and cats, and the odd guinea pig thrown in between.
Thanks to the Boneless Project, the shelter has been able to provide pets with a regular supply of food.
“People staying in our shelters often have so few positive things going on in their life and their pets are often times their biggest motivator, their biggest companions,” said Gallagher, adding the pets are generally well cared for.
“People often at times neglect their own needs in order to take care of their pets. I’ve seen some of the most well cared for, happiest pets I’ve ever seen.”
The society will be holding a pet food drive on Monday, Oct. 19. Items such as wool socks and winter coats for pet owners are being sought after, along with warm impermeable winter coats for large dogs, backpacks for large dogs, flea treatment and other left over medication for pets. Gift certificates from supermarkets, pet stores and gas stations are also appreciated.
The pet food drive will take place from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Pandora Avenue and Broad Street. Items collected will be delivered during a street pet owners and pet Christmas lunch party Nov. 14.
Pet food, flea treatment and left over medicine can also be dropped off at several locations throughout Victoria and Sooke. For more information visit the Boneless Project on Facebook, call 250-418-5892, or visit safars.org/petfoodbank.