Tag Archives: animal shelters

The Transformation of a Twenty-Something Cat Lady

Welcome Rachael, who is contributing some fun first-person content to our blog. 

Until a year ago, I was a mid-twenty something cat lady with ZERO interest in becoming a dog owner. My, how times have changed. Enter Pippa the Pomeranian.

Pippa the Pom

It all started with my Pomeranian owning Bestie. A local animal shelter posted on their Facebook about an incredibly shy, abused puppy mill escapee who was found captured mangy and malnourished on the side of the road. The Bestie’s Pom, Audrey, is a jealous red-headed fox and doesn’t exactly play well with others, so naturally, the Bestie thought the next best home for this sweet shelter pup was my house. I remember being like, “Yeah… I don’t see that working out. I’m a cat lady. I don’t know the first thing about being a dog owner.”

Fast forward two days. Bestie’s mom is now suggesting we visit this dog at the shelter. She has taken to emailing the shelter on my behalf and even puts the pup on hold so I could see her. (And to think that I thought cat ladies were crazy…) Under the ruse of a lunch date, I was practically coerced on this group shelter trip. I mean,. I was a certifiable cat lady. Cats were self-sufficient - Feed, pet, poop scoop, pet, poop scoop. Repeat. Visiting the animal shelter for a dog wasn’t exactly on my life agenda. Ever.

Arrival to the animal shelter had me more interested in the cat habitat. I had literally picked out two and named them before my transformation began. The volunteer interrupted my kitty loving and introduced me to a mangy, honey-colored fur blob. My immediate reaction was, “Gah, does she have fleas?” followed by “Oh my, she is precious…” followed by “Sweet heavens, I must have this honey colored fox” followed by “Chyna is an awful name… She’s being renamed” and ending with “When can I take her home? I.MUST.HAVE.HER.”

The volunteer said that I was the first person that Chyna Pippa took to. Apparently, our obsession with each other that day was mutual.  They say that “Animals choose you”, not really the other way around. But when they choose us and we choose them, what a perfect match! Not even going to sugarcoat it, but, it tends to lead to obsession.

Fast forward a year and you’ll find a mid, well closer to late, twenty something cat lady who has become a dog lady. Completely obsessed with a foxy little lady, and growing increasingly obsessed with the desire, want, NEED, to get her a Pug sister. She’s already been named Kate the Pug. Future Household: Me, Pippa, Kate and the cat. Transformation Complete.

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Pet food pantries matter why?

If you were faced with putting food in your kid’s mouth or food in your cat’s bowl, what would you do? You’d choose your kid, of course. If you had just enough money to feed your dog or put gas in the car, which would you choose? Most  would have to choose gas.

You shouldn’t have to make those kinds of choices.

The last few years have been rough on American households. Too often, the end result was a pet turned over to a shelter, abandoned on the street to fend for itself, or left trapped and alone with no food or water in a home no one returns to. Misguided people hope or assume someone will find and care for the animal they abandon. Sadly, it’s often too late.

In some communities, there’s a solution, a step between giving up essential needs and turning away a loved part of the family. Pet food pantries step in to provide a temporary hand – so a loved companion does not find itself in a shelter, hoping it’s the one chosen from the hundreds of dogs and cats in surrounding kennels. Or worse, find itself alone on unfamiliar streets, wondering why its people are not there, thinking there’s been some sort of mistake, fear growing stronger by the hour (which doesn’t bode well once they’re picked up by animal control and tested for adoptability).

The cost of keeping a dog or cat in a shelter, waiting for its next ‘forever’ home, averages $12.50 per day. That includes animal control retrieving the pet, intake and vetting expenses, cost to run the facility, dollars spent on food, litter and medicine if the animal was injured before it was picked up, salaries of staff, resources to train and manage volunteers to keep the animals safe and healthy while in their care, and advertising to promote the animal as being adopted.

Except… they already had a forever home. They were already loved.  Their people just found themselves facing tough choices.

This is a tremendous waste – of emotion for the people and the pet, for the community who often picks up the tab for the important work done by shelters, and for the resources of the shelter which are already stretched too thin.

The “good” news is there’s a simple answer: for $5-50 a month, a pet food pantry can give a family the supplies it needs to keep their beloved family member until things get better. That’s one less dog or cat in a shelter (or worse, abandoned completely). That means the young stray in the shelter has a little more time to find its perfect family. That means there’s less chance a loved animal will die because there’s just not enough time, money or space to find the right home for every animal. That means there’s less strain on fiscal resources – even if the pantry provides a year’s worth of food, that’s probably less than the $375 it would cost to keep that animal in a shelter for one month.

In the last few years pet pantries have popped up across the country (Petco lists nearly 700). Most are independent of the shelters in their communities. Wouldn’t it be great if the pantries and shelters could work together? (Some do, but more should.) And wouldn’t it be great if shelters established pet pantries as a way to help their communities slow the tide of animals flowing to their care?

Again some do, but more should. Why don’t they all? It’s easy: resources. A pet pantry requires people to organize and run it, food and supplies to distribute, fundraising to have funds to buy the food and supplies (few grants are available for pet pantries – yet). When you’re struggling to keep up with your existing obligations to the animals already in your care, it’s tough to tackle a new program.

But it’s worth it. It’s important. It will be hard to get started, sure, but there will be a payoff. Someday the people getting pantry support will be back on their feet, and maybe they’ll decide to volunteer for the organization, or donate, or adopt a new family member. Or maybe they’ll be doing just well enough to care for their pets without help, and that’s enough. Because that’s still one less animal in a shelter, waiting for its forever home (again), or a forever home that never comes.

BOGO Bowl was created specifically to help pet pantries and shelters deal with these tough situations. That’s why we’re here. We believe all dogs, regardless of whether they’re in a great home with solid resources, or a great home with rocky resources, or a great shelter with not enough resources, all deserve high-quality food and a chance for a happy life.

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Road Trip

We are heading to BlogPaws and Best Friends this week! Our team will be stopping at a number of shelters and pantries along the way. This is where we will keep you up to date on all the fabulous BOGO Bowl happenings!

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