BROOKSVLLE — Hernando County agencies that feed and shelter homeless pets are about to become the beneficiaries of a gift of goodwill.
Wal-Mart Corp. chose the Humane Society of the Nature Coast to receive a massive donation of pet food, cat litter and grooming supplies to distribute as it sees fit to other area pet rescue organizations, said Humane Society executive director Joanne Schoch.
Schoch said the windfall came at the end of Wal-Mart's annual management conference that wrapped up Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. During the event, the corporation sets up a mock store and donates the merchandise to various charities. In addition to the Humane Society, the SPCA of Orlando received a donation.
"It was a huge surprise for us and quite an honor that they chose us to receive this gift," Schoch said.
The effort came without any fanfare, and Schoch said she spent much of the weekend scrambling to find a storage facility large enough to hold what amounted to a semitrailer-sized load of goods.
Local businesses chipping in help included Tommie Dawson Realty and Manitou Holding Co., which located a temporary facility to house the supplies, and Flagstone Pavers, which provided trucks and drivers to move the donations from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center near Ridge Manor.
Once the supplies are sorted and inventoried, Schoch said, they will be distributed to about 10 other pet rescue groups as needed, as well as to Hernando County Animal Services.
Foods that have expiration dates will be stored in a climate-controlled facility so they won't spoil.
"We want the donation to benefit the entire pet rescue community in Hernando County," Schoch said. "It's going to help a lot of animals and the people who are working so hard to care for them and find them permanent homes."
Kathi Jackson, who runs Kathi's K9s Dog Rescue and Adoptions in Weeki Wachee, said the donation will go a long way toward lightening the financial burden that small rescue groups like hers often endure.
"We take in a lot of dogs with physical issues, and the vet bills add up very quickly," Jackson said. "Whatever money we save on things like food and grooming supplies allows us to provide more medical treatment to the dogs who are in need of it."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.