After five years, Donna Land is calling time on Whisker Kisses, her pet food donation service due to health reasons.
“I think it’s time to put my energy on family and health,” she said. “It breaks my heart to let it go, but I guess things change.”
She decided to start Whisker Kisses after a neighbour’s husband passed away and was left with two large dogs and a bunch of cats. Driven to help, Land decided to “creep” around in the middle of the night to leave dog and cat food on the front porch.
Afterwards, Land realized that if the neighbour needed help feeding her pets, other people did too. So started the five-year-campaign that would see well over 20-tonnes of food donated to several pet owners inside the province.
Whisker Kisses isn’t a registered organization or service, as Land wanted to help animals without the politics and red tape that sometimes impedes the larger organizations.
“I didn’t really know there was a need for it until I got going and unfortunately there is,” she said. “All I wanted to do was feed hungry animals, that’s why I never went so far as to become a certified charity. You have to have to have meetings every month, you have to submit books and keep track of stuff. All I wanted to do was feed animals, so I did. A one-person operation.”
Her efforts didn’t go without help though. Land said several businesses gave her everything she needed to make it a successful operation.
In addition to providing pet owners with food when they are not able to provide their pet with it themselves, Land has also assisted in vetting.
“There was this one kitty, I’ll never forget her. It was on kidney dialysis and this cat meant the world to its human,” said Land. “This woman was very, very old and first she phoned that she needed cat food so I started taking her food and then she asked me if there was anything I could do about the cat needing dialysis. So I started picking up her kidney dialysis equipment and taking it to her every month.”
Unfortunately, the cat passed away after six months.
It didn’t matter if a person in Lac des Roche asked for a delivery or if someone asked to take a bag to their aunt in Vernon or Kamloops.
“I never said no,” said Land. “I did put up with a lot of abuse though.”
She mentioned one girl who had to give away a dog because she couldn’t afford it. A neighbour took that dog in, but the girl soon moved into town and got another dog and started calling for food again and Land obliged. After a bit, the girl got another dog and when Land found out, she approached the girl.
“She actually told me to go ‘f-myself’ and I got a call two weeks ago for food from her and of course, I took it to her,” said Land. “The stress of this builds over five years and it does affect your health like it was wiping me out.”
She has witnessed people kick their animals and had customers demand her services without compromise.
Last year was also a busy time for Whisker Kisses.
Land was away on a cruise when the wildfires started but once she was allowed back into 100 Mile House, she took a truck, loaded it up with a friend and took it to the recreation centre.
They also filled it again and drove to Lac la Hache where they found a group of people camping and handed out the food.
“There was one guy. He had a rabbit and I felt so bad. I was bawling my eyes out because I had no food for this guy. I drove all the way into town and 100 Mile Feed was open so I bought a big bag of rabbit food and drove all the way back out there,” said Land.
Crying is a recurring theme in Land’s stories about her efforts.
One of the first people she helped was a 40-something-year-old man who emailed her five years ago. The man had nine dogs.
Land took nine bags of food down to him. The man only took one out, said his thanks but Land stopped him and told him the other eight bags were his. She also brought the man a box of groceries, thinking if he had trouble feeding his dogs he was probably having a hell of a time feeding himself.
It reduced the man to tears, according to Land.
A person has expressed interest in taking over Whisker Kisses, but Land said the person will not be allowed to use the same name.