TWIN FALLS • Gathering donations started out as a senior requirement and morphed into a mission for Taylor Owen.
The Canyon Ridge High School senior has clocked about 25 hours of the 40 hours of community service she needs to graduate. She doesn’t intend to stop once she hits that minimum.
Owen has set up a table outside Twin Falls’ PetSmart several times this summer, garnering money, food and toy donations for the Twin Falls animal shelter.
On June 23 she collected 317 pounds of dry dog food, 9 pounds of Milk-Bones, 11 bags of dog treats, five cans of food and 24 toys. For the felines she received 104 pounds of dry cat food, 36 cans, six bags of treats, 31 toys and 20 pounds of litter. She also received $200 in cash in addition to towels, leashes, collars and pillows.
In just one day.
She plans to continue fundraising for People for Pets-Magic Valley Humane Society Inc. until October.
Those donations are much needed, according to Debbie Blackwood, shelter director.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Blackwood said. “This one is special in that we were in a tough position.”
The animal shelter has a six-year-old Pet Food Pantry program that allows pet owners in need to come to the shelter and receive pet food to last a week or two.
“Over the life of the program there are five or six times when we got low,” Blackwood said.
The program is meant for emergency situations. But the shelter tries to help all who come in, so resources are often depleted.
Because of Owen’s efforts, the shelter will be well stocked for some time.
During her July 14 outing, Owen collected 221 pounds of dog food and 70 pounds of cat food. She also received 77 cat and dog toys along with more treats and $120 in donations. She planned to set up her table again yesterday.
All those who donate to the shelter through Owen are entered into a prize raffle. In June she gave away a $50 Best Buy card, and she will soon draw the winner of a $25 Target card.
After graduating, the owner of three dogs and three cats plans to study zoology.
“Ever since I was little I loved animals,” Owen said. “I’m against animal abuse. All animals deserve a place to live.”
Donated toys and other non-food items go to animals waiting for someone to adopt them, Blackwood said. “It helps them brave the stress of passing the time when they wait for a home.”
Until that day comes, Owen will be out asking for help for these animals and for others who have a home but need assistance with a meal.
“I would love to keep doing this,” Owen said. “It’s great to know I’ve helped them out.”