More than 10,000 pounds of dog food donated to Harford Humane Society

The Humane Society of Harford County will not have to buy any dog food for the next few months thanks to a donation of 10,000 pounds of food received earlier this month.

The food, produced by Abingdon-based VeRus Pet Foods Inc., was donated through a program organized by employees of the Baltimore office of BlueGrace Logistics, a transportation management company.

Madeline Suero, an Edgewood resident and BlueGrace employee, coordinated the effort.

"I am just a dog and cat lover," Suero said Monday.

She has worked in the Baltimore office of BlueGrace for one year. The former USTC Live Logistics was acquired by the Tampa, Fla.-based BlueGrace in the fall of 2013. BlueGrace

"When there was a chance to give back to the county I live in, I wanted to do that," Suero explained. "I wanted to make sure that my county got something back."

Suero said she connected with VeRus through an extensive search for donors and then got in touch with VeRus representatives through telephone calls and e-mails.

Supports rescue programs

VeRus has been in Abingdon since 1993, manufacturing dog and cat food with natural and locally-raised products such as chicken that is free of antibiotics and grains grown without pesticides.

The company also supports animal rescue programs within its Mid-Atlantic territory who promote VeRus products, such as the Humane Society, as well as the local independent retailers where the products are sold, company Vice President Krystle Eder said Tuesday.

"We offered it out to BlueGrace to donate it to the Humane Society to assist with our local retailers in Harford County," she said of the 10,000-pound donation.

Eder said one Harford County retailer that sells VeRus is Feed Plus of Fallston, a few miles away from the humane society's emergency shelter on Connolly Road.

"The animals at the shelter not only get quality food, but we also raise local awareness that VeRus is located in Abingdon and hopefully draw attention to our local independent retailers," she explained.

BlueGrace's Baltimore employees' initial goal was to raise 100 pounds of dog food for the Humane Society, but Suero and her co-workers left that goal in the dust with the 10,000-pound donation.

They raised 10,000 pounds, or five pallets' worth, from VeRus, as well as 100 more pounds among themselves and the Brown, Goldstein & Levy law firm of Baltimore.

The food was transported to the Humane Society's Fallston shelter in early March by Ward Trucking of Baltimore, which donated its services.

Ideal timing

"This is probably going to get us well into the summer, where we won't have to foot any bills for the food for the dogs that are in the shelter now," Blaine Lang, manager of the Humane Society's Fallston shelter, said Tuesday.

Lang said the Humane Society has been purchasing its dog food through a local vendor at a discounted price, but it will not have to buy dog food as long as the donated food lasts.

Lang said the Humane Society typically goes through about $12,000 to $15,000 worth of food each year for all animals admitted to the shelter.

He noted the ideal timing of the donation, as the Humane Society had to recently replace a boiler in its administrative building.

"All the stars aligned up for this to happen, which was fantastic," Lang said.

'...basically networking'

BlueGrace holds a pet food drive every year called "Cats vs. Dogs." The female employees, or the cats, complete against the male employees, or the dogs, to see who can raise the most pet food for local Humane Society chapters, according to a news release from BlueGrace.

"What it has turned into is, we are asking larger companies for donations... basically networking, using any contacts that we have and asking them to help with donations," Stephanie Wielinski, a public relations specialist for BlueGrace, said of the pet food drive.

Employees in the Tampa office raised 44,000 pounds of pet food this year, according to the news release.

"What I once thought would just be a nice way to generate a thousand pounds of pet food has now quickly become a massive outpouring of support generating 44,000 pounds," Bobby Harris, president and CEO of BlueGrace, stated. "The BlueGrace team found a way to align many other businesses and people to make a very real impact for animals in need. I couldn't be more blown away, nor more proud."

The year was the first time the Baltimore employees took part in Cats vs. Dogs.

Suero said she helps any organization that supports animals whenever she is asked; she also wanted to support a Harford County organization – she has lived in Harford since age 8 – and work with Maryland-based donors.

She also thanked those who worked with her to pull off the donation.

"If it wasn't a team effort, that wouldn't have happened," she said.

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