Molly Flanegin never imagined herself asking for help with something as basic as pet food, but the COVID-19 pandemic made even that responsibility a challenge.
The San Fernando Valley resident lives with her brother, Scott, as well as five cats and a 10-year-old Maltipoo dog, all of whom are rescues. Nearby, she boards Durango, her 18-year-old National Show Horse (a Saddlebred/Arabian cross) who recently recovered from surgery to address an intestinal obstruction.
When Molly saw a post on the Burbank-Glendale-Griffith Park Equestrians’ Facebook page about free supplemental horse feed, courtesy of the ASPCA’s Relief and Recovery Initiative, she decided to call the number.
“I’m the type of person who would never ask for help, but horses are very expensive,” said Molly, a freelance production designer in the film and entertainment industry who is currently unemployed due to the pandemic. “The film industry is completely shut down, with no work opening date on the horizon. It’s precarious, but Durango’s needs are my priority and in the forefront of my mind.”
Responding to a Crisis
The ASPCA was alerted to the needs of Los Angeles-area equines by one of our The Right Horse Initiative partners, which reported an increase in calls for help from horse owners.
“There is never a ‘good’ time for a crisis like this, but at least for some, the timing during the spring means grass is growing and some equines can be supported on pasture,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, ASPCA Vice President of Equine Welfare. “However, horses in places like Los Angeles do not have that luxury, as much of the land is dry and desert-like.”
Our Client Services team, headquartered in the Midwest, is making appointments for dog and cat owners looking to secure food for their animals at food distribution centers in several states; horse feed is currently available only at our Los Angeles site. Through the month of April, pet food distribution queries generated nearly 75% of the Midwest team’s call volume.
“Hearing those thankful callers makes our day,” said Amanda Rodriguez, Director of Client Services, adding that more than 100 horses have been helped in Los Angeles.
“We’ve fed more than 40,000 animals in four areas: New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Asheville, North Carolina,” said Joel Lopez, Vice President of the ASPCA Adoption Center. “Each of our food distribution locations adapted various systems to meet their needs safely.”
Help for Horses
Molly and Scott visited the ASPCA’s distribution center in South Central L.A. on April 23 to collect three 50 lb. bags of alfalfa hay cubes, which Molly soaks and adds to Durango’s regular feed as a supplement. Receiving bags of food for their cats and dog as well was “a super pleasant surprise,” said Molly, who planned to return in two weeks for more. “I’m just so grateful to have it, because it’s expensive with all of them.”
In nearby Compton, another horse owner, Salvador Paredes, also took advantage of the ASPCA’s food distribution services to feed his five horses, two dogs and one cat. Our staff delivered food and supplies for all three species to his curbside on April 21.
“I was running out of horse feed,” said Salvador. “I was thinking of taking my horses to the park to graze on grass, this is how desperate I am. These supplies help a lot, because we are running out of our savings.”
Molly echoes Salvador’s gratitude. “I can’t imagine living without my animals—they are family to me, that’s not an option,” she said. “If I take them in, it’s forever. I would never kick them to the curb.”
Learn more about the ASPCA’s multifaceted response to COVID-19 and review our resources on keeping yourself and your pets safe.