Tuesday, November 24, 2009
By Julia Williams
Throughout the year but especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, many compassionate souls step up to help those who have fallen on hard times. Food banks and soup kitchens ensure that the homeless, jobless and low-income families all have a nice holiday meal. But what about the beloved pets of those less fortunate? If they are lucky enough to live in Portland, Oregon, they too will have plenty of good food to eat this Thanksgiving! Thanks to The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank and CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods, no companion dog or cat in Portland has to go hungry this holiday season.
This new food bank for pets officially opened on November 8th, and plans to be open on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. Reflecting on their first day, The Pongo Fund Founder Larry Chusid said it was a “perfectly joyful opportunity to help the community. We were able to effortlessly guide each person through the facility, providing them with food and nutritional advice, in only a matter of minutes. Providing a respectful and efficient experience will be critical as we expect to help more and more people as news of the pet food bank spreads.”
Although this past Sunday was only the second day The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank was open to distribute high quality dog food and cat food to the needy, it’s already clear that it’s going to have a huge positive impact on the lives of many – humans and animals alike. The number of customers on the second day doubled that of opening day, and in November alone The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank provided more than 10,000 meals to hungry pets who might not otherwise have any food.
Anyone with a genuine need can receive a two week supply of premium pet food for their four-legged friend. What’s more, the warehouse full of kibble and cans generously donated by CANIDAE will allow people to come back to get more food every two weeks, so long as they have a need.
Keeping pets and families together in tough economic times is a challenge. Although many may still have a roof over their heads, the loss of a job can drastically impact a family’s financial stability. Families are torn apart, because there’s just no money to buy pet food. “If people can't afford to feed their pet, they have to give them up. The Pongo Fund fills a unique need… they help keep families together by feeding the pets,” said Lael Concordia, Director of Social Services at William Temple House, another Portland organization that helps individuals and families in crisis.
I read a touching story in the Oregonian that illustrates just how critical it is for cities to have a pet food bank like The Pongo Fund. A social worker told of parents who had explained to their children that they didn’t have enough money to feed their dog and didn’t want it to go hungry, so they were giving it up for adoption. The children had become despondent, not only because they’d lost their cherished pet, but because they feared they would also be “given up” if there wasn’t enough money for food.
Until our economy recovers, this family is probably not the only one whose young children might have that same concern. Children just don’t understand adult worries such as the need to put food on the table or in the dog’s mouth. Nevertheless, when a family is in dire straits financially, kids do feel the anxiety and the anguish of their parents, and having to give up their pet only adds to their fragile emotional state.
Organizations like the Pongo Fund are so important right now, because they help both the pets and the people who love them. By providing quality dog and cat food to families in need, Larry Chusid knows he is saving lives and lifting spirits. He recently received an email from a family who had been loyal CANIDAE customers for years, but were experiencing true financial hardship. They had run out of dog food and were feeding their two dogs oatmeal and rice. Larry knew The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank would be able to help them, but it wasn’t going to be open for another 12 days. Not wanting the dogs or the family to suffer, he opened the food bank just for them.
This Thanksgiving, many needy families in Portland, Oregon will have a lot more to be thankful for. The Pongo Fund and CANIDAE have not only given them the food they desperately need for their dogs and cats, but renewed hope and joyful hearts too.
Read more articles by Julia Williams