VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The government shutdown continues to impact federal workers and a local non-profit is stepping up to help their furry family members.

Winston Wishes is a nonprofit that helps pet owners living in Hampton Roads during times of need with pet food and supplies. Founder Heidi Watkins said their hope is that no pet has to go without food.

“We found that if we can provide them food, and keep the families as a whole, and that keeps the pets out of the shelter and it keeps those families together. Hopefully, it keeps the numbers low in the shelter,” said Watkins.

Winston Wishes was established in 2018 after Watkins rescued an abandoned cat named Winston in 2017.

As the government shutdown continues and many people have yet to receive a paycheck, Watkins said they are extending their services to furloughed workers.

“We completely understand that what’s going on with the government, they have no control over, and we certainly don't want the pets to have to suffer because of it,” said Watkins.

After a post on Facebook about the help Winston Wishes was offering to furloughed workers, Watkins said they’ve been contacted by people across the country for help.

“We did a big post on Facebook to offer food to all of the military families especially in the Hampton Roads area. We’ve been able to reach over 34,000 people already. And we’ve had the opportunity to even feed some people out of state,” said Watkins.

Watkins said her goal is to be able to provide food and services for furloughed workers' pets so their families stay together during these tough times.  

“If you have a pet, your pet is part of your family Just the thought of having to choose whether you’re going to provide food for yourself, pay a bill or provide food for your pet that’s a really tough emotional decision,” said Watkins.

If you’d like to donate pet food, supplies or make a monetary donation to Winston Wishes click here.