Volunteers collect and deliver pet food across Greater Victoria during COVID-19 pandemic

Richard Hawkes has ‘food coming out of his ears’ and would love to help those in need

Volunteers from Greater Victoria are desperate to find people in need of dog or cat food, after collecting thousands of pounds worth of food.

Since January, Richard Hawkes and his wife have been collecting returned, damaged or nearly expired dog and cat food from pet stores and veterinary offices, and redistributing them to the wider community.

Hawkes said that the idea came as he reflected on his own past.

“In my 40s I was flat broke living in my parents’ garage with my dog,” he said. “I would feed my dog before I would feed myself.”

Now, after what he says took hard work and good fortune, Hawkes is married, housed and has had a business boarding dogs and working with animals.

The Hawkes began by dropping off simple pamphlets at local shops and clinics and soon had an overwhelming response. In January alone the pair collected 350 pounds of kibble and started dropping it off at shelters.

During COVID-19, however, Hawkes set his eyes on a different idea, especially after many shelters stopped taking visitors or closed.

READ MORE: BC SPCA restricts access to shelters over COVID-19 concerns

“Recently the shelters and food banks have become overwhelmed with COVID-19, so we’ve started now to reach out to the community and see if anyone needs help,” Hawkes said. “For example, someone living on a pension with three dogs.”

Many more people are in need than usual, he added, as more people are laid off due to the virus.

Hawkes and his wife take the food, reorganize it into freezer bags and label it by brand and ingredients and deliver it to people with enough supplies for a week.

ALSO READ: Goldstream Food Bank moves operation outside in response to COVID-19 fears

“We want to play it by ear and see what the demand is,” he said. “If it’s not that high we could drop off more than a week.”

The pair get everything from standard kibbles to specialized dietary foods from vets; everything from chicken to grain free to bladder friendly varieties.

If things continue as they have so far, the duo will have collected over 2,000 pounds of food in March — enough for 10,000 cups of kibbles

“Even a large dog only needs four per day,” he said.

Anyone in need of pet food, or who is aware of some food that could be donated can contact Hawkes at covidkibbles@gmail.com .

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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