Life happens. Money gets tight — sometimes at the worst moments.
Regardless of your financial situation, when you have pets, you have family. That means loving and caring for them, even when times are hard.
Fortunately, if you happen to lose your job or end up piled under unexpected bills, finding a way to feed and care for your pet doesn’t have to become an added stressor. Instead, you can turn to your local pet food pantry for help.
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What They Are
Just like food pantries exist for people, they exist for animals, too. Many are operated by local organizations and supported like regular nonprofits through grants, donations and volunteer work.
Take Pets4Sake, for example, a food pantry in Mohawk, New York. With the goal of allowing low-income pet families to keep their animals instead of giving them up, the founders of this pantry found a way to help by giving free food to local families with pets in need.
Pets4Sake works like many other pet food pantries do. To qualify for help, they require a few specifics, like information about family size and income, along with shot records or a dog license, for example. Based on a family’s specific needs, Pets4Sake will then offer supplemental necessities.
Most food banks operate in a similar way — providing supplements specific to each pet family’s needs. Those supplements can come in the form of food, collars, litter, food bowls, toys, vouchers to spay or neuter pets, and more. The goal is to help people through rough times but avoid enabling full reliance on the assistance.
Who They Help
Beyond helping individual families, some food banks strive to help even more.
Colorado Pet Pantry in Denver recognizes just how strong the bond between human and animal can be. It supports anyone whose life (along with their pet’s) has been enriched through that relationship by giving pet food to low-income families and homeless people with pets. It also distributes food to local shelters in need. Last year, after getting a food donation worth $130,000, Colorado Pet Pantry divided the 22 pallets of supplies between 20 different organizations in the area.
In this case, when Red Barn Pet Products decided to change its logo, it donated bags of pet food with its old logo to a food bank that could make good use of it.
Beyond large donations, though, pet food and supplies make their way to pet food pantries through both physical and monetary donations. In some instances, when pet stores don’t plan to restock a certain item or have food nearing expiration, they donate to a local organization.
The food, of course, is still good, but because of the way pet stores operate, they simply don’t keep it on the shelves. The same happens when packaging is ripped or damaged. Instead of throwing the items out, pet stores often donate it.
How You Can Help
Pet food pantries take donations in multiple forms. Most will accept:
- Dog and cat food
- Treats and toys
- Bowls, collars and leashes
- Cat litter
They also accept cash donations, which might go toward purchasing supplies or general operation costs. Beyond physical donations, food pantries also need volunteers.
Friendship Pet Pantry, for example, actively recruits volunteers for occasions like pet food distribution days, fundraisers and public events. It also needs help coordinating bins, reaching out to communities and delivering food.
How to Connect
Just like Friendship Pet Pantry, others are in need of the same type of help. Whether you want to donate or volunteer, you’re needed.
To offer assistance or receive help, the best way to connect with local food pantries is by calling your closest Humane Society or animal shelter. It can easily direct you to or connect you with the right food bank nearby.