By Tawny Martel Galligan
Special to the Journal
February 14 of this year marked the 5th Anniversary of the APS-FH Community Pet Food Drive, created to assist the Friday Harbor Food Bank meet the ever-growing need of island families and their furry family members.
Five years ago, APS Shelter Director Leslie Byron and fundraiser coordinator, along with Dave Tietjen, a past board member of APS and FH Food Bank tossed around the idea of a community pet food drive as a complement to the annual APS Spay-Ghetti Dinner celebration in honor of National Spay/Neuter Day.
Each year since the pet food drive took flight, APS Friends and Family have collected pet food and funds for food from Valentine's Day until the last Tuesday in February. Once collected, the Food Bank distributes the dry or wet, dog or cat food to families from their location on Market Street.
This year, to celebrate five years and hundreds of happy pets, APS challenged their Friends and Family and several pet-loving island businesses; Islanders Bank, Friday Harbor Pet Supply, The Barking Bird, Islands Veterinary Clinic, Windermere SJI and the San Juan County Courthouse to compete against each other, working in teams, to contribute the most poundage. The team that collected the most food and funds would be crowned with the "TopPaw Title" and receive a gourmet lunch for their office, delivered by APS staff.
Though the food drive fell slightly short of its goal to raise two tons (the combined total of the first four years) APS, Friends and Family and competing teams were able to bring a new record total for the year to just over 3,100 pounds.
It was quite a race for the 2014 TopPaw Title. Islanders Bank, one of the first to sign up for the challenge appointed Brigitte Reitan to post-position and from there she and her little “Bella,” a 6-year-old Chihuahua, and the Islanders Bank team worked tirelessly collecting a whopping 817 pounds.
“It was ‘PAWsATively’ inspiring to see Brigitte’s enthusiasm, how she rallied the entire Islander’s Bank family together into a fantastic Denim Finish on February 28,” said Stacy, a longtime Islanders Bank customer and fan.
Other totals collected and contributed include San Juan County Courthouse, with 334 pounds, Friday Harbor Pet Supply, with 284 pounds, APS Shelter , with 220 pounds, Islands Veterinary Clinic, with 110 pounds, The Barking Bird with 45 pounds, and Windermere San Juan Island, as The TopPaw, with 1,338 pounds, topping their 2012 collection total of 1,000 pounds.
“The promise of the TopPaw Title, a gourmet lunch as well as putting our best paws forward for island families, pets and our community was all the inspiration we needed to get onboard with the challenge again this year,” said Gary Franklin, managing broker for Windermere San Juan Island, when asked why his office is continuously so enthusiastic and committed to the Community Pet Food Drive.
As for what is on the menu for that gourmet lunch at Windermere, shelter Director Leslie Byron said it would include her famous chocolate mousse cake.
Once again the APS-FH sends sincere gratitude to its Family and Friends, local businesses and their teams that participated and all for the help and support.
“The level of passion and commitment of our islanders to keep families together and happy pets in their homes, is how the APS-FH can accomplish as much as we do,” said APS shelter Administrator Jan Murphy. “Thank you all so very much for your role in creating a better Island for people and pets.”
For more information on the Community Pet Food Drive and other fundraisers, shelter business, volunteering and adoptions, log on to www.apsfh.com, check out the APS Facebook page or just drop by 111 Shelter Road, just past the end of the airport runway, where Mullis becomes Cattle Point Road.
— Editor’s note: Tawney Martel Galligan is a member of the Animal Protection Society board of directors.