The Central Vermont Disaster Animal Response Team (CVDART), a regional team of the statewide group VDART, is seeking donations to help provide assistance to animals affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the group announced today. “As part of a mission to keep pets with their families during the pandemic, CVDART has delivered over $2600 of pet food to a variety of food pantries throughout Central Vermont,” a statement from CVDART Chair Lisa Lemieux said. A portion of the pet food was purchased with a $500 grant made possible by a COVID-19 Emergency Animal Care Grant VDART received from the Humane Society of the United States to support the care of animals who are victims of the pandemic and its economic consequences, the statement said. In addition to the grant, the Central Vermont Humane Society has joined with CVDART to distribute unused pet food from its shelter. Over the last month, CVDART has distributed pet food to Capstone, Connecting Hope and Hedding Methodist Church in Barre, the Montpelier Food Shelf, UMC Middlesex Food Shelf, Williamstown Food Shelf, the Food Shelf and Senior Center in Waterbury, Faith in Action in Cabot, CERV in Northfield, and the Duxbury Elf Shelf.“Vermont animal shelters and rescues have been forced to severely limit their community services and adoption programs, and don’t have the capacity for a large influx of surrendered animals if pet owners can’t afford to take care of them,” said VDART acting Chair, Joanne Bourbeau. “So it is even more important to keep pets in their homes during this time. People should never have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pets.” Earlier this month, VDART, working with Pawsitive Pantry of Waitsfield, connected the Vermont Food Bank to a grant opportunity with Greater Good, a national nonprofit that protects people, pets and the planet. As a result, VFB is expecting a large shipment of pet food in early May to help restock Vermont food pantries with this growing need. Donations to help fund this project can be made through the organization’s website at www.VermontDART.org/donate.