Patty Crawford doesn't want to see families forced to give up pets because of the bad economy.

Patty Crawford doesn't want to see families forced to give up pets because of the bad economy.

She has created a pet food pantry, following up on an idea she had last fall.

"I heard on the news about people having to abandon their pets and people having to return their pets" because of financial trouble, said Crawford, who has a 13-year-old shih tzu named Fergie.

"I thought, 'Why doesn't someone have a pet pantry?' and then I thought, 'Why don't I do a pet pantry?'" Crawford said.

"It's just tragic to hear on the news about the recession. Today your pet is like your family and you hate to see something like that have to happen, so hopefully this will help."

Crawford turned to her husband, John Crawford, who owns John Crawford Radiator Services. He offered a corner of the radiator shop to house the pantry.

"We had a spare room in the shop," she said.

With the help of her husband and a friend, Kimmy Bird, Crawford worked on setting up the pantry as a nonprofit organization and building up a stock of pet food. So far, all donations are from local individuals.

"I've been waiting on our 501c3 status," Crawford said. "I need the community support to help me. We're going to try to feed all the animals we can feed for people who are in need."

Anyone in the area who has lost a job or is in other financial hardship is welcome to apply for up to three months of pet food assistance.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, show ID and sign a form releasing the pantry from liability if their pets get sick.

"To qualify, you must have lost your job or be unemployed or just be someone that's having difficulties right now," Crawford said. "This is what we call temporary food assistance. We'll feed (the pets) for about three months and that should give them enough time to get back on their feet."

Friends, family members and other donors have already given generously to the pantry.

"The people of Grove City have been bringing me food day by day. It's unbelievable," Crawford said.

In addition to food, the pantry also stocks cat litter and new or gently used dog or cat collars and leashes, and dog and cat toys.

The local Petsmart allowed her to post information about the food pantry at the store, and several local pet daycare centers are serving as dropoff points for donations.

Thursday, Feb. 17 was the food pantry's first day distributing pet food. Distribution will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m every Thursday.

Donations can be dropped off at the radiator shop, 3340 Broadway, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Financial donations can be made online at grovecitypetpantry.com. To schedule pick up of food items, call Crawford at (614) 875-4347.