(UPDATE: The day after the pet food was stolen, Gateway Pet Guardians announced on Facebook that the community donated thousands of dollars and Purina offered to replace all of the stolen goods.)
ST. LOUIS – Local animal lovers have stepped up to support the Gateway Pet Guardians after dozens of bags of pet food were stolen Thursday afternoon.
The staff said surveillance cameras captured three people stealing large bags of pet food stacked near the front door of the facility on Manchester Avenue in The Grove neighborhood. The value of the food is estimated at more than $1,200.
Alisha Vianello, adoption and foster program manager for Gateway Pet Guardians, said the suspects loaded the bags into two vehicles. When another employee tried to stop them, the suspects drove away.
"There was a woman leaving the vet clinic next door, walking her dog, and they sped away so fast they nearly hit her," Vianello said.
The pet food had been donated to the rescue group by Purina.
Gateway Pet Guardians has more than 100 animals in its care and nearly all live in foster homes. The rescue provides food, supplies, and veterinary care for its pets.
Jamie Frederick is fostering a dog named Nico until he finds a forever home. She is grateful Gateway Pet Guardians gives her everything she needs to care for him.
"He's a big 65-pound dog, he eats so much," said Frederick. "I can't afford to do it any other way, I guess."
Vianello said the food was stacked outside temporarily so foster families could easily pick up their latest supply.
Thousands of dollars in donations and supplies have been donated to Gateway Pet Guardians following the incident.
Nick Craine, of Edwardsville, and his wife adopted their dog, Chloe, from Gateway Pet Guardians. After they heard about the theft, Craine stopped by with a donation of food.
Gateway Pet Guardians rescues animals and provides pet resources for low-income households, which is why the situation is especially disappointing.
"If they came in and said, 'Hey, I'm in hard times. I don't have any food to feed my pet,' we would've more than happily given them a bag of food," Vianello said.
Gateway Pet Guardians will be transitioning to a new, larger facility in East St. Louis in 2020.