IHS Pet Food Pantry Feeding Cats & Dogs

Doers Of Great Deeds

Laura Hart, a friend and founder of the Pooch Pageant invited me to join her during her volunteer session at the Idaho Humane Society’s Pet Food Pantry so I could learn more about the program.

I was thrilled to get a chance to visit the pantry, meet the volunteers, and get the scoop of what goes into running the program. It was a good experience but before I get into it, I just want to say, thank goodness for volunteers who help make programs like the Pet Food Pantry happen.

Here’s Their Story

The Pet Food Pantry is a division of the Idaho Humane Society. It was conceived during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. During this period animal shelters nationwide saw the worse episode of animal surrenders nationwide.

Families were loosing their jobs and homes left and right; money was tight. As if that wasn’t bad enough, many families had to part from their beloved pets. A traumatic experience for caring pet parents and the pets that loved them. To add insult to injury, shelters were crowded,  adoption rates were low, euthanasia of healthy family pets were at an all time high everywhere. All these family pets were victims of circumstance.

In Boise, Idaho, a group of local volunteers couldn’t sit idly by, they wanted to do what they could to help families keep their pets and that they did. The Pet Food Pantry was born. Volunteers sought funding and donations from the general public and from organizations to help qualifying families keep their pets in their homes, safe and fed. To this day, the program is still managed by amazing, dedicated volunteers.

A Helping Hand

The Pet Food Pantry, helps different groups in different ways. They help pet owners with proven financial struggles, qualifying citizens of the Meals On Wheels program, IHS pet fosters, neighboring animal shelters, rescues and on occasion their own IHS shelter.

The help the Pet Food Pantry provides comes in the form of pet food, treats, and supplies that can be offered for up to a period of six months. This help enables pet owners to keep their pets and buys them time to get back on their feet. In the case of Meals On Wheels, the service is extended for as long as the recipients are in the program.

Here are some Pet Food Pantry 2014 – 2015 stats:

  • Assisted 170 pets of home-bound owners by delivering over 15,436 pounds of pet food to companion animals.
  • Helped financially struggling families by supplying 33,571 pounds of pet food.
The Pet Food Pantry supplied over 40K pounds of pet food to Boise families. Click To Tweet

Food. Treats. Supplies.

Pantry Cat Can FoodI was given the tour of the small pantry trailer which was stacked with shelves from floor to ceiling on most every wall. Many of the shelves were piled high with dry goods, a few were designated for cans and a smaller section for supplies: kitty litter, bowls, toys and the like. The majority of the shelves were highly stacked with dry and canned goods for dogs but only roughly one quarter was scantily holding dry goods and cans for cats.

Cat Food ShortageLisa Jarussi-Smith, the Programs Coordinator, stressed how challenging it was to help cat owners month after month. That explained the sign I saw in the check-in room which read “DUE TO CAT FOOD SHORTAGE 4 LBS CAT FOOD PER CAT TODAY.”

Given that the cat population in homes is so much higher than dogs, and with the Pet Food Pantry’s struggle to feed them all, there could be a correlation of why many cats are still making their way into shelters.

The Pet Food Pantry’s hands are tied. The volunteers are doing all they can to raise awareness, get the word out and seek help for donations of cat goods. For now, they wait and hope to collect more cat goods in the bins dispersed throughout the city.

One way local Boise, ID organizations can assist is by running a pet food drive. When you sign up for this program, you are given bins to place at your business and flyers to help you collect pet food and supplies to donate to Pet Food Pantry. If interested in signing up for the program, reach out to Lisa Jarussi-Smith at (208) 475-0851.

Food Quality

There is a saying, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” That is true indeed. You can’t expect nothing but gratefulness for any donation, right?! As true as that may be, I was educated on the great variety of food qualities stored in the shelves. It ranged from really good, high protein pet food to very poor quality food that had nothing but fillers. The kind of food that if given to any pet for a long length of time, it seriously cuts down on its lifespan.

The interesting point that surfaced from that conversation is that it appears that many of us might not know the difference in ingredients considering some low quality pet food costs almost as much as other higher grade brands. Of course that got me thinking about what I feed my own pets. My dog is on a high-protein diet luckily not on the bad list but to my surprise my cats prescription food was. Not going to get into that conversation now but you may want to look at Mercola’s passionate write-up on exposing pet food manufacturer’s dirty tricks and also look at the extensive list of bad dog foods over at Good Reads.

The Monthly Process

Twice a month the Pet Food Pantry volunteers, bless their hearts, show up to guide pet owners through the application process, and to fulfill many hundreds of pounds of food, treats and supplies for cats and dogs for local families in need. Outside you could see cars lined up in rows of two wrapping around half the block waiting their turn to receive help. The amount of paperwork and stacks of binders was enough to give me a little anxiety; and, I was just visiting.

You could tell the volunteers have been doing the work for a while as they had their system down.

Cat Food Wanted

I am aware that across the country there are many similar programs helping families feed their pets. I wonder if they too struggle with getting donations for cats. And if so, I wonder if their local shelters too have a higher cat population.

If that were true then there needs to be a more creative way to be crystal clear with messaging that donations for cat food, treats and supplies are needed. Perhaps it’s as simple as labeling some of the collection bins in big bold letters and maybe images that indicate – DONATIONS FOR CATS ONLY.

IHS Pet Food Pantry is in desperate need of cat products (food, treats, litter). Click To Tweet

The purpose of the 2nd Annual Pooch Pageant is to help the Pet Food Pantry raise funds and donations so they can continue doing the great work they do. The event is going to be fun for the entire family taking place on March, 13 in Boise, ID. If you’re in the area, join us!

For now, I need to find out what’s up with the quality of my cat’s food. I guess a prescription label doesn’t really mean much anymore.

What fundraising ideas could you share to the Pet Food Pantry or other organizations like this?

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