Pet Pantry of Lancaster County

The services provided by this respected nonprofit organization no doubt contributed to Pet Pantry being voted the best rescue organization in our “Best of Lancaster” survey. 

Melody Sanders is a co-founder of Pet Pantry and serves as its CEO and board president.

The pandemic created a phenomenon that saw animal shelters nationwide realize a goal that was once deemed all but impossible – animals adopted in record numbers, which, in some instances, led to empty shelters. Two-plus years later, the trend is shifting. With adults returning to the office and kids back in school, the question of how to work pets into busy schedules is being posed. Add in record inflation and the cost of owning a pet is further stretching the household budgets of many pet families. 

Sadly, pets are being returned to shelters or, worse, are being abandoned. Peruse social media sites such as Nextdoor and you’ll become aware of the number of cats being left to fend for themselves, which is only adding to the feral cat problem in many communities. Unfortunately, good Samaritans are learning there is no room at the shelters. Shelters, in turn, are frustrated that they cannot provide assistance to all involved. 


Cats are the focus of Pet Pantry’s rescue efforts.

Interestingly, the idea for the Pet Pantry materialized during another time of crisis – the Great Recession. In 2011, its three founders took note of the alarming number of pets being surrendered to shelters because of the economic downturn. The threesome began conducting pet food drives for families in need. Initially their efforts were focused on 12 families. As word spread, they were quickly overwhelmed by the interest shown in their food drives. The donated food, which was originally stored in co-founder Melody Sanders’ living room, soon took over her garage and eventually, additional storage units. Fortunately, That Fish Place/That Pet Place offered its help by donating warehouse space to the cause. 

The Pet Pantry team also noticed a need existed for affordable veterinary services. As the idea for a veterinary program began to take shape, the team recognized a larger, more visible and permanent location would be needed. In May 2014, the Pet Pantry moved to its current location on Millersville Road in Lancaster, which not only provided the space for veterinary services, but also for an animal rescue, as well as an on-site thrift shop filled with just about anything a pet owner would need. 

Feed, Fix and Rescue 

Ten years later, the Pet Pantry continues to focus on “meeting the need” through three initiatives: feed, fix and rescue. “Food insecurity is the biggest reason for pet surrenders,” states Lindsay High, who is the development director of the organization. In an effort to keep pets with their owners, the Pet Pantry hosts monthly food distributions for the families they serve. “As much as we love the animals that come through our shelter, we want to keep pets in their loving homes,” Lindsay explains. The Pet Pantry currently provides 250 families with food assistance. Last year, 71,000 pounds of food were distributed to Pet Pantry families.

To reduce overpopulation, the Pet Pantry offers low-cost spay/neuter services. Trap-neuter-return (TNR) services for feral cats are also made available. Vaccinations and microchips are also offered.

Lastly, the Pet Pantry strives to find loving homes for cats and dogs that are looking for a second chance in life. Due to a lack of space, they rely on foster homes to house dogs that come through the rescue. Because of this, Pet Pantry isn’t able to coordinate as many dog adoptions and therefore the shelter’s main
focus is on cats. 

It Takes a Village 

If you are unable to adopt a new furry friend, there are still plenty of other ways to support the animals and families that the Pet Pantry aids.

In addition to monetary gifts, the Pet Pantry is happy to accept donations that range from cleaning supplies to toys, beds, blankets, towels, carriers/crates and food. You can also buy supplies from their Amazon Wishlist or Chewy shopping registry. The Pet Pantry is also happy to receive new or gently used pet items for the thrift shop, with all proceeds directly supporting their programs.

Volunteers are essential to the Pet Pantry. They help to clean the shelter, feed animals, answer phones, work in the thrift shop, distribute food, represent the organization at community events and more. Online applications can be accessed through the website, petpantrylc.org. 

The Pet Pantry also is in need of foster homes for both cats and dogs. Again, online applications are available through the website. 

Extra Give and Light the Way 

Of course, fundraising is the lifeblood of organizations such as the Pet Pantry, which hosts and participates in fundraising events throughout the year. The next big event on the calendar – and it is a biggie – is the Extraordinary Give on November 18. Launched in 2012 by the Lancaster County Community Foundation, the ExtraGive has become Lancaster County’s biggest day of giving. For details and to donate to your favorite organization(s), visit extragive.org. 

On December 3, the Pet Pantry will host Light the Way at its headquarters. The evening (5-8 p.m.) will feature a grand illumination of the building (the lighting display honors loved ones – including pets – who have passed, as well as pets that “light up” our lives), tours of the facility, food trucks, a beer garden (courtesy of Spring House Brewing Co.), wine tastings (courtesy of Britain Hill Vineyard), a holiday market and photos with Santa. (Visit the website to make a donation towards the lighting decorations.) 

Pet Pantry is located at 26 Millersville Road in Lancaster. For more information, visit petpantrylc.org and on Facebook and Instagram.

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