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North County Humane Society holds holiday donation drive for pets

OCEANSIDE ---- As the holiday season approaches, many individuals and organizations are doing what they can to collect food and clothing for needy families, but one local group is focusing on often-overlooked members of many families: pets.

North County Humane Society, which serves Oceanside and Vista, is asking people to donate pet food and spare blankets for the hundreds of dogs, cats and rabbits who will spend the holidays in the nonprofit organization's shelter this year.

Animals are often overlooked when people think of helping the needy, said Yvonne Key, who has been volunteering at the shelter for three years.

"I think a lot of times people focus on people more than they focus on animals," she said. "But the animals are still here, and they would like turkey, too ---- and sweet potatoes."

Megan Young, who brought her children with her to the shelter Wednesday to donate pet food and blankets, agreed.

"They do get forgotten," she said. "The families get taken care of and the animals just get kind of put on the back burner. People don't remember they're needy too."

Also as part of the holiday donation drive, organizers are asking people to bring in pet toys, trash bags, hoses, brooms, leashes, collars and towels in addition to pet food and blankets.

The donations will go to the roughly 200 animals at the shelter as well as the animals in the Humane Society's foster care program and some pets of needy families.

Julie Bank, executive director of the local Humane Society, said there is a great need for many different types of pet food ---- and lots of it ---- to feed the 7,000 animals the shelter typically houses each year. Though the effort is being billed as a holiday food and blanket drive, donations are needed throughout the year, she said.

By bringing people into the shelter this winter, Bank said, she is hoping they will become more active in the future.

"It's a great way for the community to get involved with us," she said of the holiday drive. "It's beneficial to the animals, but it's also very beneficial to the agency as a whole."

Bank said she hopes to make the holiday event an annual occurrence at the shelter.

Donations can be brought to the shelter, at 2905 San Luis Rey Road. For information and a list of needed items, visit the shelter's Web site at www.nchumane.org.

-- Contact staff writer Stacy Brandt at (760) 631-6622 or sbrandt@nctimes.com

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