Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Brian DeChant, right, of Dunwoody delivers a donation along side friend Gayle Petty and assisted by employees Mike Chatham, left, and Tiffany Richey, back, from the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center, which hosted a pet supply drive that will be shipped out on Wednesday, donating to help those in need after the Moore, Okla., tornado. For DeChant's recent 40th birthday party his mother Karen, not pictured, asked those who attended to bring animal food instead of gifts for Brian.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Things have gotten a little out of hand at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter — but in this case, that’s a pretty doggone good thing.
When animal control officer Delana Funderburk had the idea to put together a pet food drive for the animal shelter in tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., she figured they’d have some success and she’d simply drive a small U-Haul full of food and supplies to the Midwest. As of Tuesday afternoon, the drive had netted an estimated 32,000 pounds of donations, with another hefty contribution from the University of Georgia expected Wednesday morning.
All that ain’t gonna fit in a U-Haul.
“This has been amazing,” Funderburk said. “I just never, never expected this, especially on such short notice. People are driving from all over Georgia to come out here and do this. It really kind of makes you feel like you can have faith in people again.”
Twenty-four people were believed killed in the May 20 tornado in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Displaced and orphaned animals have flooded the city’s animal shelter and residents who lost everything have found themselves unable to feed their pets.
Even on a holiday weekend, the Gwinnett shelter stayed open Friday through Tuesday to collect donations — 30 pallets worth and counting — that manager Sgt. Chip Moore said will now be shipped directly to Oklahoma by a private company (which asked not to be named). The food and supplies will go to the Moore Animal Shelter, which will take what it needs and then distributes a portion to needy pet owners in the area.
“By the end of Day 1, and certainly by the end of Day 2,” Moore said, “we realized that it was a lot bigger than we thought it was going to be.”
For his 40th birthday, Karen DeChant’s special-needs son asked for pet food in lieu of presents. They made the drive from Dunwoody on Tuesday to drop off a hefty load.
“We just felt it was a way of giving forward,” DeChant said. “You have to give and not always take, so that’s what we’re doing. I think it’s great of people to take so much food over there.”