Many times, the busiest days at the Storehouse New Mexico are the third Friday of the month. That’s the day of the monthly Pet Food Pantry. Each month, the Storehouse distributes bags of dog and cat food to families who need it. The long lines at the pantry on those pet food distribution days speak to the need of this vital resource. As one of the few organizations in the Albuquerque metro area providing a Pet Food Pantry, the Storehouse is hoping to raise awareness around the need for this kind of pet food support.
The Need for the Pet Food Pantry
Amid inflation, people across the country are no longer able to afford their pets. The problem is somewhat compounded by the increase in pet adoptions during the pandemic. According to data from the American Pet Products Association trade group, 35% of pet owners are worried about the expense of having a pet in the current economy. Further, half of those worried owners stated they may have to surrender their animals. The impact of inflation has been worse on New Mexico families compared to the rest to the rest of the country. This includes families with pets, which makes sense for a state like ours with higher rates of poverty.
Throughout 2022, animal shelters were in crisis. Pet intakes have increased in local animal shelters. At the same time, there has been a decrease in adopters and fostering volunteers. Carolyn Ortega, director of animal welfare at the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department, says, ““Our surrenders have really gone up significantly. When they do surrender, we ask why and so many people have said it’s because of the economy. They are downsizing, moving from homes to apartments, or in with family members, or becoming homeless. We’re seeing more people who really do care about their pets not having the financial ability to care for them.” (https://www.abqjournal.com/2552831/animal-shelters-continue-to-be-in-crisis-in-2022-ex-some-21500-pets.html)
How Does the Pet Food Pantry Work?
The Storehouse is working hard to address this pet expense issue in New Mexico by providing pet food. Most importantly, trying to keep beloved dogs and cats with their families. The Storehouse Pet Food Pantry happens one time a month. It’s generally the third Friday of every month from 9:00 am to Noon, but the date can vary. The service calendar can be found on the Need Food page of our website. People can come get their own food the same day. Or, if they already received food for their family earlier in the month, they can still come get dog or cat food if they need it on Pet Food Pantry day.
As with all of our food, the Storehouse counts on donations for the Pet Food Pantry. The majority of our pet food donations come through VCA Animal Hospital and their charitable fund called VCA Charities. In 2022, VCA donated 4,659 pounds of dog and cat food. Those gifts allowed us to provide pet food 1526 times during the year for Storehouse clients.
Tales of the Tails – Pet Stories from Storehouse Clients
The vast majority of the cats and dogs that benefit from the Pet Food Pantry are locals. Of course, that makes sense with the general clientele of the Storehouse. Their stories are varied, but all carry the idea that they struggle paying for pet food. For example, Lori and her seizure alert dog, Rowzer, count on the Storehouse. There’s also Ace, who was smaller than his litter mates and being starved when Rick got him. Today both Ace and Rick get food from the pantry, which they greatly appreciate. Rick mentioned, “A lot of people don’t know that you can’t buy dog food with food stamps,” referring to the government assistance program now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Without the Storehouse, many more people would be feeding their pets their own human food to make sure they have a chance to eat.
Pets from Far Away Can Find Themselves in Need, too!
The Storehouse did have some distant guests in need visit the pantry recently. In fact, one family and their cats came all the way from Ukraine and turned to the Storehouse for cat food. Two elderly women from Ukraine were rescued from the war-torn country thanks to their daughter who lives in Albuquerque and lots of generous friends. Despite living in a bombed-out city without power, they were hesitant to leave their home country. Part of that worry was that they didn’t want to leave their pets behind. Traveling for days in crates by bus and then by plane, the cats and their grateful owners made it to safety here in New Mexico. The Storehouse has provided cat food for them and they are grateful for that help. (You can find more on their rescue story here: https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/it-was-a-miracle-local-ukrainian-woman-reunites-family-for-holiday-season/)
From far away or Albuquerque natives, the Storehouse is simply here to help. Pet food is just one way we do that.
How Can the Public Help the Pet Food Pantry?
The Storehouse can definitely use help to continue to provide pet food. There are several ways for pet lovers to get involved to help this part of the Storehouse work. First, you can volunteer on Pet Food Pantry Fridays. It’s one of the busiest days at the pantry every month. You can help hand out dog and cat food. Of course, you can also pack carts of food and get that human food to their families, too. Second, you can do a food drive specifically for pet food. Small bags are appreciated of both dog and cat food. We don’t repack large bags and we cannot accept food outside its original containers. That includes pet foods. Set up your own drive online with your own club or company graphics. You can also contact us at info@StorehouseNM.org or
(505) 842-6491 to get bins. Third, you can donate online. If you want the funding to support the Pet Food Pantry, be sure to note that on your donation.
Together we can make sure local cats and dogs can remain with the families that love them.