Animal-loving group helps owners keep their pets

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Feb. 14, 2013
Friends of Animal Care and Control founder Debbie Sansom with her dogs. Photo by Colin Rajala.
Friends of Animal Care and Control founder Debbie Sansom with her dogs. Photo by Colin Rajala.

For so many families today, keeping food on the table and the bills paid takes every cent they have. Dealing with factors like pay cuts, job loss and rising expenses for food, fuel and energy, the additional cost of veterinary care and food for the family pet is the straw that threatens to break the camel's back. What do you do?

In Windsor, you call The Friends of Animal Care and Control, whose mission it is to keep your four-legged family members safe in their homes with the human companions who love them. Started almost two years ago by Windsor resident Debbie Sansom, this group of caring volunteers provides pet supplies to families who have found that they cannot afford them. Sansom says the need is greater than ever. They are now working with 70 local families to help them take care of more than 100 pets, and she knows the reason for their success is because of the selfless volunteers who are committed to the project.

“It’s overwhelming to see the community help out. It makes you feel really good with all of the tragedies that have been going on,” said Sansom. “When you have a bad day, when the phone is ringing off the hook, dealing with day-to-day problems, trying to set up food drives, trying to raise money, and I just don’t think we can do it; then someone or something comes forward, and it gives us the strength to go on and do more.”

Many of the people in the group were involved in the successful effort of Windsor residents to convince the Town Council to keep the dog pound in Windsor rather than regionalizing the service. They sensed that they could do more. The volunteers formed a mobile pet supply pantry, providing families and the elderly with a two-week supplemental supply of food, delivering bags of dry cat and dog food, cans of cat and dog food, as well as litter to doorsteps in town. The Friends of Windsor Animal Care and Control rely heavily on donations from the public and local businesses.

“We didn’t know how to go about it, didn’t know really what we needed to do, we just knew that we had to find ways to bring the food in,” Sansom said. “We have such wonderful people supporting us. It’s rewarding because we had no idea the need was out there.”

The group operates with just 12 volunteers, including its close advocate, Windsor Animal Control Officer Brian Davis. They leave cans in local businesses for shoppers to drop change into, and regularly plan fundraisers and donation days outside of local businesses like Petco, Stop and Shop, Pet Supplies Plus, and Kibble-N-Stuff in order to support their mission.

“They are providing a necessity to the public,” said Davis. “I had no idea it would take off and grow to this degree,” he said. "It’s a wonderful service, for them to put the amount of time they're putting in is remarkable. They are willing to put it upon themselves to take something on like this without second-guessing themselves.”

The group is always looking for volunteers to help out and hopes to one day operate their services out of a new animal services facility. From the facility, Sansom sees the group hosting educational events and low-cost rabies clinics, and housing stray animals.

To volunteer with the group or to donate goods, visit www.friendsofwindsoranimal.com or call 860-249-9463.


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