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Can't feed pet? North Oakland Animal Help



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From left: Raena Kalfayan with Cathy, a NOAH client. Photo by Susan Bromley. (click for larger version)
October 12, 2011 - Onyx, an 8-year-old rottweiler, lived on bread alone with his first owner, who fed the dog hamburger buns and hot dog buns.

"I don't know what the situation was, but the owner asked my son if he wanted him, or he was going to take him to the pound," said Cathy, a village resident who requested her last name be withheld.

Cathy's son took the dog, but when he moved to Casper, Wyo. in June, he was unable to take Onyx with him. Now Cathy cares for Onyx, to whom she has become deeply attached. Her son said he would return for the dog, but with the assistance of the North Oakland Animal Help (NOAH), Onyx is finally in his forever home.

NOAH, a non-profit 501c3 organization, is dedicated to providing free pet food monthly to families in need. Raena Kalfayan co-founded the organization one year ago with Janet Haering, and clients can pick up food for their dogs and cats at NOAH, 457 Mill St., in the village, by appointment each month.

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"I'm on disability, so it's hard to buy the dog food every month," said Cathy. "I want him to be well-fed and they (NOAH) are so helpful. I don't know what I would do if they weren't here. Onyx is companionship for me and a good watchdog."

Cathy gives the rottweiler scraps left over from dinner and buys him cans of dog food if she has coupons, but relies on the 40-50 pound bags of dog food NOAH gives her for the majority of her pet's nutrition.

Onyx is just one of many dogs that benefit from the

generosity of the community. NOAH is supported solely by donations, and the organization has seen a great need for services. In August, Kalfayan said NOAH distributed 25 50-pound bags of dog food and 32 16-pound bags of cat food. NOAH is currently helping about 42 families per month, most from the Brandon and Clarkston area, but Kalfayan has registered several new clients over the past few months and is preparing for the influx that the holidays bring. Last Christmas, NOAH helped 75 families, feeding 150 dogs and 160 cats for the month of December.

Kalfayan said the families helped are very grateful. Many of them fell on hard times in the current economy and were at the point of using food stamps to purchase tuna fish or hamburger to feed their animals. She received a letter not long ago from a client named Nicole, whose family includes three children, five dogs and eight cats. The family had volunteered with a local rescue to help homeless and sick pets. When Nicole became sick and was unable to work full-time, she wondered how the family could care for their pets.

"We became very upset and unsure of how we would be able to keep all of our friends," Nicole wrote. "That's when we found NOAH, who has helped us feed all of our pets for the last couple of months, making our pets fat and happy!! Without NOAH, keeping our pets would not be possible. Pets are a wonderful addition to our family, they make our kids very happy and help in healing..."

Details: NOAH, to donate or to receive help, leave a message at 248-627-4900 or visit www.helpfeedfido.com. Checks can also be made payable to NOAH and sent to: NOAH, P.O. Box 679, Ortonville, MI 48462.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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