The food pantry at the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center frequently receives donations of pet food from those who realize people in need have dogs and cats who have to eat, too.

The food pantry at the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center frequently receives donations of pet food from those who realize people in need have dogs and cats who have to eat, too.

Now, a local veterinarian is spearheading efforts to get the owners of his patients and those of other veterinary hospitals in the neighborhood to donate to a formal animal food bank at the center.

"I was looking for ways that our hospital can kind of help the community in general," said Dr. Mark McCloskey of Beechwold Veterinary Hospital on Indianola Avenue.

One of his clients, McCloskey said last week, volunteers at the community resources center's food bank. She suggested people who can't afford to feed themselves certainly can't afford to feed their pets, and that might be a need not currently being met.

Some of the food pantry's clients are going hungry because they give some of what they receive to their pets, according to the center's manager of family services, Beth Stewart-Magee. That's not good for the people or their pets, she said.

"I gave a call down there and they were very interested," McCloskey said.

"That is perfect," Stewart-Magee said. "This is really a brand-new thing we'll be doing.

"He'd been aware of the need, but there are a few of our participants here who are also pet owners who frequent his clinic and they had told him about the need for pet food at the pantry."

"People's pets are like their family members, and if they're low on income they still have to feed themselves and they still have to feed their dogs," center Executive Director Bill Owens said. "One thing we don't want to have happen is for people to go hungrier by giving their human food to dogs, which isn't good for them, or by buying food for their dogs but not themselves."

The program is starting out small, with a container for donated pet food at Beechwold Veterinary Hospital as well as information letting clients know of the need, and that they can also drop off dog and cat food at the center's headquarters, 14 W. Lakeview Ave. McCloskey said he and the others on the staff at Beechwold Veterinary will send out emails regarding the fledgling effort.

McCloskey said he doesn't expect people to donate $70 bags of pet food -- just brand names that meet the basic nutritional needs of dogs and cats.

"Even just smaller bags of food," McCloskey said. "It's hard for me to recommend getting the cheapest food, but I also don't think we need to go to the premium foods."

McCloskey plans to reach out soon to the other veterinarians in Clintonville to get them to join in stocking the animal food bank.