Southington residents are raising money for pet needs

Southington residents are raising money for pet needs

SOUTHINGTON — Concerned about an uptick in surrendered pets, volunteers with the town’s Animal Control formed a non-profit to help support struggling pet owners with food for their companions.

Friends of Southington Animal Control has held pet food drives and is planning a larger fundraiser in the fall.

“There is a great need. We love all the pets in our community and we want people to keep them in their homes,” said Kitty Lukonis, the group’s board president.

Pandemic pets

Pet purchase and adoption rose during the pandemic. Ann Marie Conaty, the group’s board vice president and an animal control volunteer, said the situation has changed with the economic slump.

“We had no pets available during COVID. What’s happening now is that people are starting to surrender their pets because they’re struggling to feed their pets, let alone themselves,” Conaty said.

That’s a loss for pet owners, who have to part with what may be an emotional support, as well as the pets that are then shuffled to the pound and then another home. Friends of Animal Control’s mission is to keep pets with their owners at home.

“That’s really good emotionally for people too,” she said. “Plus for the animals, you don’t want to see them in a shelter.”

The group formed after Animal Control volunteers saw the need for pet food but were limited in what they could do as part of a town department. Earlier this year, they formed the nonprofit friends group to collect money.

“This is why we started it. You’re very limited in what you can and can’t get from people if you don’t have a 501(c)3,” Conaty said. “Now we can raise funds and do what we need to do.”

Lukonis said the Animal Control facility on Woodruff Street acts as the group’s “home base” and that they work closely with Animal Control Officer Josh Karabin. The friends group has been to several town events this year and collected food donations, which are delivered to Southington Community Services.

“Southington is a very generous community in regards to its animals,” Lukonis said.

Janet Mellon, Southington Community Services director, said the rise in food prices has also hit pet food.

“I say ‘ouch’ when I leave the store,” she said.

Mellon was excited about the friends group and the prospect of additional pet food to provide struggling residents. While Community Services hasn’t run out of pet food recently, there have been times that supplies were very low. Two of Mellon’s volunteers have been buying pet food to prevent stocks from disappearing.

“I think this’ll make a big difference,” Mellon said of the Friends of Southington Animal Control.

More information about the group can be found at

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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