The Pet Pantry is celebrating 10 years of helping to “meet the needs” of local pet owners and finding loving forever homes for stray or surrendered animals. The idea for the Pet Pantry materialized in 2012 when the three founders noticed an alarming number of pets being surrendered to shelters because of the economic downturn. Many pet owners were no longer able to afford food for their animals and were struggling to meet other needs, such as veterinary care.
The threesome knew they needed to do something to help, so they began conducting pet food drives for families in need. They collected pet food donations in Melody’s living room and began portioning out food for 12 families. As word spread, they were quickly overwhelmed by the interest in their food drives. The food donations took over Melody’s garage and eventually additional storage units. 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 that they would need a larger, more visible location.
In May 2014, the Pet Pantry moved to its current location on Millersville Road in Lancaster where they would have the space to not only offer veterinary services, but also operate an animal rescue.
The Pet Pantry was also able to open an on-site thrift shop filled with just about anything a pet owner needs. Visitors can find brand new pet beds, toys, cleaning supplies and much more. The Pet Pantry is happy to receive new or gently used pet items for the shop and all proceeds directly support their programs.
Today, the Pet Pantry – which is consistently voted the best rescue organization in our “Best of Lancaster” survey – 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. Spaying and neutering also reduce the risks of companion animal diseases, testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and more. Trap-neuter-return services for feral cats, 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. Unfortunately, they aren’t able to coordinate as many dog adoptions because of this, so the shelter mostly focuses on cats. “The average length of stay for one of our cats is approximately two weeks from the intake date, barring there are no medical challenges,” Lindsay reports. “When a cat comes into the Pet Pantry, they receive a complete medical evaluation including all core vaccines, a microchip and if needed, their spay or neuter surgery. Once all the requirements are met, a deserving shelter cat is then placed for adoption.”
How You Can Support the Pet Pantry
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 donations, the Pet Pantry is happy to accept donations such as cleaning supplies, toys, beds, buckets, packing tape, paper towels, toilet paper, blankets and towels, carriers/crates, kitten formula, dry and canned food, trash bags and distilled water. You can also buy supplies from their Amazon Wishlist or Chewy.com shopping registry.
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. To apply to be a volunteer, click here.
The Pet Pantry also looks for foster homes for both cats and dogs. Fostering helps to keep animals out of cages for extended periods of time and provides an idea of how the animal behaves in a home setting. To apply to foster shelter animals, click here.
The Pet Pantry also hosts fundraisers throughout the year. Currently, the organization is holding a Candy Egg Sale for Easter. Peanut butter and coconut eggs are available in either milk or dark chocolate. Orders are due by March 18 and pick up is on April 2.
Also in March, the Pet Pantry will host Maverick’s March Madness – in memory of their adorable cat mascot, Maverick, who passed away last spring. They will collect photos from 68 of their Pet Pantry alumni and host a fundraising campaign through which you can make a donation and vote for your favorites. The final four contestants will be featured in the 2023 Pet Pantry calendar with the winner on the cover.