The Nestle Purina plant in Dunkirk played an important part in the company's effort to ease the burden of cats and dogs impacted by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.
Bill Saltzman, Director of Corporate Communications for Nestle Purina said, "In response to Hurricane Sandy, Nestle Purina Pet-Care has coordinated donations to more than 30 animal welfare organizations, veterinary clinics and hospitals in the affected areas. The donations include several brands of Purina pet foods, Tidy Cats brand litter, and Purina Veterinary Diets FortiFlora.
In addition, Nestle Purina is donating $20,000 to North Shore Animal League America's Emergency Response Team, which has organized an emergency pet shelter in New York, and $15,000 to PetSmart Charities, which has set up a temporary distribution center to assist animal welfare organizations across the entire northeastern United States."
In all the company donated 115,782 of pet food, 5,625 pounds of dog treats and 72,000 pounds of Tidy Cats Litter delivered to Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
According to Dunkirk Plant Manager Ronald Bowers, "Of that total, Dunkirk provided about 50,000 pounds of cat and dog food."
Other plants that contributed to the effort are located in Mechanicburg, Pa., Allentown, Pa., and Bloomfield, Mo. Mechanicsburg makes the same type of product as Dunkirk, while Allentown makes canned food and Bloomfield makes Tidy Cat litter.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Debbie Szymanski operates a fork lift to load a trailer of dog and cat food bound for Edison, N.J. Szymanski, a 35-year employee of the Nestle Purina plant in Dunkirk, was responsible for loading the entire trailer. The Dunkirk plant donated the cat and dog food while Team Hardinger from Erie, Pa.. donated the transportation of the product. This was part of the effort to ease problems created by Hurricane Sandy.
Rick Williams, transportation manager in Dunkirk, coordinated the effort locally. One truck left last week for Staten Island. Freight company NEMF donated shipping on that load.
On Wednesday morning, a truck from Team Hardinger, a transportation and warehousing company, left the Dunkirk plant headed for Edison, N.J. Team Hardinger donated the shipping.
Williams said, "Both NEMF and Team Hardinger contributed significantly by providing the transport of the product. They both deserve recognition for this."
Williams continued, "The company's slogan is 'Your Pet; Our Passion.' This fits in with what we are doing." He explained that the company is involved in many charitable endeavors through their Pets for People Program. This particular effort is classified under disaster relief.
Terry Palmer, assistant warehouse manager in Dunkirk, said, "Before I worked here, I didn't think about the effect of disasters on animals. I think their needs are overlooked sometimes."
In a disaster, the animal shelters may not have the budget to deal with the influx of animals who are separated from their owners.
For example, The North Shore Animal League has organized an emergency shelter. On their website, the organization reported it served over 400 animals in an emergency shelter that has been open since Oct. 28. Many of the animals have since been reunited with their owners, but as of Monday 263 were left. The organization continues to send out mobile rescue units to distribute food donated by Nestle Purina to areas stricken by the storm.
Bowers added, "We feel it is important to supply aid to our local communities. We recognize the effect such events have, and think taking care of these communities is important."
In the warehouse, Debbie Szymanski, a 35-year employee of the company, used a forklift to finish loading the trailer provided by Team Hardinger. She was responsible for packing this trailer. She had to find the proper product in the warehouse and make sure the load was correctly packed for travel.
Greg Bundy, the logistics manager for Nestle Purina, John Miller and Barry Sherman from Team Hardinger, as well as Williams and Bowers were there to watch the last few items loaded.
Once the truck driver, Jed Lion from Team Hardinger, arrived, he connected the truck to the trailer and was ready to set out. Lion said he has been driving truck for about five years. He was to due to be in Edson, N.J., on Thursday. He figured the trip would require about six hours of driving.
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