Local church aims for pet food world record

Living Hope Church collects 9.8 tons, enough to best 2006 Guinness World Record

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

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That's a ton of kibble. Or 9.8 tons to be exact.

Living Hope Church recently collected 19,600 pounds of pet food in seven days, a feat that -- when verified -- should smash a record held for seven years by a South African supermarket.

Between April 30 and May 5, church leaders asked their 5,000-strong congregation and the Vancouver-area community to aid their lofty goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for "largest donation of pet food in one week." The current 13,011-pound record was set Sept. 2006 in Boksburg, South Africa.

Senior Pastor John Bishop said nearly two-thirds was dog food, but donors also gave horse feed, goldfish flakes and even gerbil chow. About 2,200 pounds of pet food was expired and not counted in the final tally.

After the bounty was weighed, the food was delivered to a handful of Clark County animal charities, including 4,000 pounds to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington and 769 pounds to Northwest Battle Buddies, which provides service dogs to combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Guinness Book of Records was first published in 1955 and has since become one of the best-selling titles in history, with new editions released yearly.

Living Hope regularly holds charity drives, but not typically this immense. Bishop said the pet food plan developed in April while the Christian church was in the midst of a series of sermons centered around animals.

"A big church has big responsibilities to the community," Bishop said. "That's something that's inside our DNA."

It was a lot of work to follow Guinness' rigid 18-or-so pages of guidelines, said Missy Hannon, church business director. Local engineers Peter Tuck and Gayle Scott volunteered to certify the final weight, while the entire detailed process was documented on video. The proof was shipped overseas to the London-based company and the church's claim will be reviewed before becoming gospel.

But with many county pets already benefiting from the donations, Living Hope is celebrating a victory.

"We've crossed every T and dotted every I," Bishop said.