As a pet parent, falling on hard times financially can make it increasingly difficult to provide not only for ourselves but also for our best friends. For some, this can lead to the impossible decision of saying goodbye to their furry family members, surrendering them to local shelters or rescues that can provide for their needs. This is where your local pet pantry can make all the difference.
Driven by generous donations and incredible volunteers, these organizations are dedicated to doing what they can to help pets stay with the family who they know and love.
It’s not a situation that pet parents anticipate when bringing their dog or cat into their lives. Approximately 40% of Americans would struggle financially to handle an unexpected expense of just $400, a fact that has really come to light with the current economic struggles being felt across the country and around the world. It could impact any one of us if dealt the wrong cards in life. This is why we need to come together as a pet community!
So, what exactly is a pet pantry and what can you do to support pet parents in your community? Let’s take a closer look at the work of these indispensable organizations.
What Is a Pet Pantry?
A pet pantry is a charity that focuses on supporting those that have fallen upon hard times as they work to get back on their feet by providing essential food and pet supplies. This includes wet and dry food, treats, formula for puppies and kittens, cat litter, grooming supplies, puppy pads, leashes, harnesses, collars, pet toys, pet beds, and more. By relieving some of the burdens that pet parents are facing during these challenging times, they make it possible for pets to stay in their homes with their families.
In addition to these supplies, most pet pantries will also provide pet parents with the resources necessary to address other pet-related needs like veterinary care.
Some pet pantries will operate as separate charitable organizations, like The Pet Project Midwest based out of Iowa. Others may be connected with a related organization such as a local animal shelter or a human food bank like the Lollypop Farm Pet Pantry which is run by the Humane Society of Greater Rochester in New York. The supplies that they provide come from generous donations from pet brands, pet retail stores, and kind-hearted individuals.
Not only do these efforts help the pets in your community and the people who love them, but they also help take the pressure off local shelters and rescue organizations by reducing the number of owner surrenders that they will need to rehome.
In addition to helping individuals that are struggling, a pet pantry can also step in the wake of a major crisis or environmental disaster. An example of this is the heartfelt work that is being done by the Colorado Pet Pantry to support pet parents following the recent Colorado Marshall fire. With over 1000 homes destroyed, and hundreds more damaged, these families have lost everything. By providing them with essential supplies, they allow them to continue to experience the comfort, companionship, and unique bond that only comes from a pet’s love.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder, shared this from her recent volunteer experiences with the Colorado Pet Pantry, “The importance of a local pet pantry became very apparent while I volunteered with the Colorado Pet Pantry at the disaster center set up for the displaced families from Colorado’s Marshall fire. Hearing their stories and seeing the gratitude for the support we could provide their pets left a permanent mark on my heart. I hope for all communities to have pet pantries to assist families in need.”
How to Support a Pet Pantry
These organizations wouldn’t be able to do what they do without the support of pet lovers like you. If you are interested in helping with the work of your local pet food pantry, there are many different opportunities to make a difference. Check out our suggestions for ways to support your local pet pantry or reach out to the organization directly to find out what they need most.
Spread the Word
One of the most important things that you can do for your local pet pantry is to help spread the word about their work to your local community. Not only will this help to reach those in need, helping to connect them to the resources available, but it can also help to attract donations from pet lovers in your community that may not be aware of the need. This can be as simple as sharing their posts on social media or telling your friends, family members, and co-workers.
If you’re not familiar with the pet pantry in your area, contact your local animal shelter or nearby veterinarians for more information.
Donate Pet Food or Supplies
Directly support the efforts of your local pet pantry by donating unopened food and new or gently used pet supplies. If you have recently decluttered your pet’s supplies, you may have items that your dog or cat is no longer using. As long as they are in good condition, these items that were collecting dust can now help a pet in need. Many pet pantries will also have wish lists set up with Amazon or Chewy, allowing you to purchase the items that you wish to donate online, and they will be delivered directly to the organization.
Most recently, our parent company, CUDDLY, launched a fundraising platform for pet pantries, like this one for the Colorado Pet Pantry. This helps people from anywhere donate needed products to a community they care about.
Make a Monetary Donation
You can make a one-time donation or sign up to be a monthly donor, providing your local organization with the funds necessary to keep the pet pantry running. This allows them to allocate the funds where they are needed most, including office supplies, gas for pick-ups and deliveries, costs associated with their physical location, or purchasing pet supplies when they are running low on specific essentials. Most pet pantries are registered charities, meaning that you can get a receipt for tax time.
Organize a Fundraiser
Whether you prefer to organize an event online or in person, a fundraiser is a great way to take the resources that you personally have to offer and multiply them to benefit your local pet pantry. This will also give others in your community the opportunity to support the cause.
For an easy fundraiser that you can set up in just minutes, you can create a personal fundraiser on Facebook. This has been growing in popularity recently with fundraisers being held to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions. Your supporters make the donation online and Facebook provides the funds directly to the organization. All you must worry about is getting the word out to potential donors.
Consider donating your time by volunteering for your local pet pantry. Many different roles need to be filled for these organizations to continue running effectively, including administrative work, packing and organizing supplies, collecting and transporting donations, and running the pantry during open hours. This is a great way to leverage your talents and skills, whatever they may be. Whether you can commit to an ongoing volunteer position or have a couple of free hours to spare, every little bit helps.
One of the best things about the pet community is the way that we can all come together with a common goal – providing the best life possible for our pets. If each of us made a small donation or offered even an hour of our time, it would add up to make a considerable difference for those in need. Remember, you never know when the one in need of assistance could be your friends, family, or even you!
Have you volunteered with your local pet pantry? We’d love to hear about the ways that you are making a difference in your community!
About the Author: Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.