Monday, June 28, 2010

The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank: A True Success Story

By Julia Williams

Last November I told you about a wonderful Portland charity called The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank. In seven short months, what started as one man’s heartfelt desire to help two homeless men feed their starving canine companions, has blossomed into Oregon’s largest charitable pet food resource. Thanks to the Pongo Fund and CANIDAE, more than 500,000 premium quality meals have now been scarfed up by hungry pets in Oregon and southwest Washington. That, my friends, is a lot of fortunate dogs and cats who not only have full bellies but are able to remain with a loving family instead of being given up due to dire financial circumstances.

I recently spoke with Larry Chusid, The Pongo Fund Founder and Executive Director, to ask him how things have been going. Larry said “The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank is only open two days a month for three hours. In other words, we’ve been open to the public for the equivalent of 42 hours. That’s it...42 hours. We know that we provide food for thousands of families with pets that are at risk of being abandoned or surrendered because their families cannot afford to feed them. But how do we really measure success after only 42 hours?”

Well, I’ll tell you how. You measure success by the hundreds of people who, rain or shine, come to stand in line for their pet food every two weeks. You measure success by their radiant smiles when they receive the pet food, because you can see how much it uplifts their spirits to be able to feed their beloved dog or cat. You measure success by realizing that, because of your pet food bank, more than 50,000 premium quality meals are being provided to family pets each and every month.

You measure success by the unprecedented accord the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank has been able to establish and maintain with a long list of major human services agencies and charities – organizations that have direct contact every day with people who need help feeding their pets. You measure success with your recent donation of seven tons of pet food to the Oregon Food Bank for statewide redistribution, which means that you’ve now extended your reach far past the Portland city limits.

You measure success with the knowledge that The Pongo Fund has already achieved two of their primary goals: 1) using premium quality food as a lifeline to keep family pets from being abandoned or surrendered because their families cannot afford to keep them fed; and 2) reducing shelter populations without using euthanasia or other fatal methods. And you measure success by each human life that’s saved because now they can use their money and food stamps to feed themselves instead of giving their own meager provisions to their pets.

So you see, it’s really not that hard to measure success, is it? Of course, all of these things only scratch the surface of the impact the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank has on people and their animal companions. It’s not just the people and pets of Oregon who are being helped either. As word spreads, the Pongo Fund has begun receiving pleas for help from as far away as Florida, from people concerned about their Oregon friends and relatives in dire need of pet food. Knowing that help is at hand enables those who live far away to feel less helpless, and gives them peace of mind.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods is a vital part of The Pongo Fund’s mission to keep family pets from starving or being surrendered to a shelter because their families cannot afford to feed them. Their initial donation of $125,000 worth of pet food was the lucky break this humble nonprofit needed to turn a dream into reality.

But why did a California-based company decide to support an organization in Oregon? For one thing, the Pongo Fund’s founder has unmistakable passion for his humanitarian mission, and it’s this unbridled passion that creates incredible momentum for the organization to grow and succeed. CANIDAE wholeheartedly believed in the Pongo Fund’s vision from the start, and they believe in it even more now. The company continues to provide donations of their premium quality pet food, and recently expanded to include a $20,000 shipment of Snap-Biscuit® dog treats. “What would dinner be without dessert!” quipped Chusid.

The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank has achieved some truly remarkable things in seven months. But mark my words – this is just the tip of the iceberg, and the best is yet to come. To quote a hit song from the 80s, “the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.”

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. Larry "Pongo" Chusid has done an amazing job. In my estimation, the man is a saint. He has nourished and saved coutless families. A local hero!

    - A. Stanley

  2. I volunteer at Pongo and hear from so many of our guests how wonderful it is to be able to feed their pets such a high quality food. Canidae supports the health & well being of it's direct recipients and feeds the soul of their human companions.

  3. I was laid off a year ago. I have struggled as a single parent to figure out who needs to be fed the most (I'm, obviously, always last). When I heard about The Pongo Fund, we went down & couldn't believe how nice everyone was & the amazing quality food they give to us for our pets. Not only do we not have to stress about making sure they don't have to cry for food, they are getting steak instead of pasta! I could never imagine giving up our pets. We have a dog (11 1/2), cat (11), cat (10) & another cat (2). Our pets are like family. We have based where we live on who will accept our pets. They are all great pets (no issues of destruction or otherwise) but not everyone sees them the same as pet-lovers do. We originally got our pets when I had 5 boys at home (& I was married). 3 are grown & gone now. We were almost evicted after I was laid-off & ended up having to move due to finances (I'm 50 & never had any issues like I'm having to deal with now). My 1st concern was how we would be able to live in our car with the pets. We are so attached, I would be in torment the rest of my life wondering if they were ok. I'd like to thank Larry Chusid as he had an amazing vision & although I'm panicked about ending up living on the street with my family, right now, one worry I don't have is feeding my pets. Thank you!


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