Jillian Yarbrough loves her two dogs.
When the partial federal government shutdown started some weeks ago, the last thing on her mind was feeding them.
But Yarbrough's husband, Philip, is a senior chief in the U.S. Coast Guard and his family's breadwinner. He's also among thousands of federal employees working without pay as the shutdown — sparked by President Donald Trump's demand for money for a border wall — drags on.
"When my husband and I were pinching pennies earlier this week, we didn’t think about dog food and cat food," said Yarbrough, a mother of three. "I’m grateful for (the Charleston Animal Society's) support.”
The animal society, located at 2455 Remount Road, is helping families like the Yarbroughs who are impacted by the partial shutdown. The nonprofit group announced Wednesday that federal employees are invited to get free food from the shelter's pet food bank.
Guests may come between noon and 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends to receive a month's supply of dog and cat food. All of the chow is donated by other local charities and residents.
"We’ve always had our free food bank. We wanted to focus on the federal employees to reiterate we have this food bank available to them since they're having a tough time," said Kay Hyman, a spokeswoman with the society. "It's critical to our mission to keeping animals in homes.”
Thousands of federal employees are not being compensated as the president and Congress remain at odds over the budget, specifically whether to spend billions of dollars on a border wall. Some of these employees have had to put pet food on the back-burner as they manage their cash flows.
"If we can help alleviate that pressure by offering a bag of food, that’s what we’re for," Hyman said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hyman said no federal workers had showed up for free food, but on social media, many like Yarbrough voiced their appreciation that the group was thinking about animals.
"We are a [Coast Guard] family and I know that making sure everyone in our house is at least fed during these times is important," wrote Danielle Elizabeth.
Meanwhile, families are beginning to feel the pinch of the shutdown. While Yarbrough said her family hasn't missed a paycheck yet, they soon may. She said they've discontinued their cable television and monthly subscriptions for Spotify and Pandora to save money.
“I should not have to decide between purchasing a gallon of milk and half-a-gallon of milk for our children," she said. "It's our reality.”