One of the most common things we get requests for is pet food, and it’s easy to see why. First, it’s food, a basic necessity. But second, it’s one of those resources that runs out, and quick, especially if you’ve got a big dog.
But third is this simple fact: a lot of owners will feed their dogs before they feed themselves. I think about our friend Barbara, who told me that there were times where she looked at what she had and said, “Well friends, we’re all eating ground beef tonight,” because that’s all there was to eat, and everybody got an equal portion. Or I think of clients I’ve met who told me about the times they’ve gone without to make sure their pet didn’t go hungry.
Our pet food pantry is, in a very fundamental way, what we mean when we talk about our work both helping pets and people. The struggles that pet owners go through don’t just affect their pets, they affect the owner, as well. Having to worry about where your next meal is coming from is exacerbated when you know there are others depending on you. Going without so that their pets can eat puts them in a bad place, not getting enough nutrition, depriving them of energy they need to get through their work day (or days, depending on how many jobs they have). But more than that, human food isn’t formulated for a pet’s nutritional needs the way that dog or cat food would be.
So then, if we’re serious about keeping pets and people together, happy and healthy, a pet food pantry is a no-brainer.
Which is why it’s done so well. Last year we provided 270 tons of food. And that’s not just to individual pet owners. We provided it to other pet organizations in outlying areas or even ones around here who were experiencing a shortage. We gave to organizations like churches that have human food pantries, so that pet owners could get a little something for their pet while they were there for themselves.
It’s grown so much, in fact, that we have an underground storage facility for what we can’t keep here. It feels so good to know that we’ve become the resource we wanted to be. Would we feel better if nobody needed this help? Sure. But the struggle is real, as they say. Poverty and lack of resources have a number of causes. We can’t fix everything, but we can be there to support not just individual owners but also the other organizations that help create a system of compassion and understanding to help folks out.