Each quarter Scout chooses a 501c-3 charity and donates 10% of our revenue. We were so impressed with their work last quarter, that we have chosen to continue our partnership with Colorado Pet Pantry. They are doing amazing work in their community. Please enjoy this guest post and consider donating.
By: Amy Hempe, volunteer @ Colorado Pet Pantry
Pets are Family
Whether it’s snuggling during a cold night or just resting a head on your knee during a scary movie, they require only food and shelter from us to give undiluted loyalty in return.
When we can’t meet their needs in one of those areas, it can be devastating. People can fall on hard times and struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, providing food for the human family is difficult enough without having to buy food for the cat or dog.
A big fluffy dog named Lucien
A situation just like this befell a big fluffy dog named Lucien. Looking like a German Shepherd-Samoyed mix, Lucien found herself with her owners at the Denver Dumb Friends League. Her family was distraught that they could no longer afford to feed her. They would need to surrender her to the shelter.
Shelter employees could see that this was a beloved dog who had good people. The primary obstacle preventing her from staying with her family was food, and they had reached a point where they felt it was insurmountable.
“We believe pets need to be with their families”
DDFL staff asked the family if they had tried going to the Colorado Pet Pantry, a nonprofit with fifteen different monthly pet-food banks in the Denver-Boulder area. The family had never heard of this organization but saw that there was a food bank the very next day. Relieved that they could keep Lucien, Colorado Pet Pantry helped them to solve a potentially heartbreaking issue.
Situations like this were what inspired Eileen Lambert to create the Colorado Pet Pantry back in the spring of 2013. The economic recession was nearing its end but the effects on pets were harsh. Shelters saw dramatic surges in the number of pets surrendered. Often it came down to money for pet food.
“We believe pets need to be with their families,” she says. “By helping to provide people with half of their pet food, we hope to ease the burden on shelters. And nobody has to say goodbye to their pet.”
In the beginning…
Colorado Pet Pantry started with one food bank in the Denver Highlands Area. The Bienvenidos Food Bank operates as a human food bank, but partners with Colorado Pet Pantry which sets up its operation outside the human pet food bank so that clients can get all of their food needs taken care of in one go.
Since then, more pet food banks have grown throughout the metro area. The number of pets fed has grown from a few hundred in a year to more than 13,000 in 2017.
Word had definitely spread.
Volunteers lead the pet food banks and develop rapports with clients. Some people are regulars, like Irma who is on a fixed income and still needs to feed her Chihuahua companions. Other clients, like Eric who owns his beloved boxer comes as needed.
Colorado Pet Pantry has a core group of more than 75 volunteers who tackle various jobs. Since nearly all of the food is donated, they must pick it up from the 65 local businesses including pet supply stores, doggy day-cares, and veterinarian clinics that have large bins for donations. Food also comes donated from distributors who have food nearing expiration, or in bags that have been slightly damaged. Rather than wasting it in a landfill, the Colorado Pet Pantry can put it to good use.
“We seal it up tightly, sort it and then distribute it.” says Lambert.
Volunteers must also organize the food at the warehouse in pallets of over a 1000 pounds of food for the different banks. They keep track of the number of clients the different pet food banks see so that donors can see where their money is going. They also help run the Animal Welfare Share Program, a corollary project resulting from many donations that could not be distributed at food banks.
“We would get donations of large crates, beds, or boxes of flea and tick medication that we just couldn’t transport to the food banks. We felt that different dog rescues could benefit from these items more,” Lambert explains. Currently, there are 45that participate in the Share Program.
“What wouldn’t you do for your family?”
Like all nonprofits, fundraising is the lifeblood of the organization. While most involved are volunteers, there are big overhead costs such as the rent on the warehouse. Colorado Gives Day in December brings in the greatest amount of funds. For every donation made on that day, there are matching donations. Then there are monthly givers who provide stability throughout the year. Finally, in 2018, like in past years, Colorado Pet Pantry is holding the Denver Bow Wow Film Fest on April 21, 2018. Attendees will pay $35 to watch a series of short films about dogs in various contexts: mountain rescue dogs, hiking companions, and general moral support buddies. (More often than not the dog-loving audience is moved to tears.) Participants can bid on silent auction items and mingle while enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep this going, but pets are family. What wouldn’t you do for your family?
For more information about Colorado Pet Pantry or to donate, check out their website at http://www.ColoradoPetPantry.org.