Food Pantries for Cats and Dogs In Need | Paw Pet Pantry

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 131 - Paw Pet Pantry

Food Pantries for Cats and Dogs In Need | Paw Pet Pantry

Nowadays, food pantries have become a vital source of free, wholesome food, nutrition education, and health screenings in the neighborhood. 

The goal of a community food pantry is to directly assist neighborhood residents who struggle with hunger and food insecurity.

But what about the pet cats and dogs in that area?

 

This is how Theresa Oschmann, founder of Paw Pet Pantry, got to the realization that cats and dogs do not get their needs in food pantries.

 

“Our mission is to provide no-cost dog and cat food to those in our community who are experiencing financial hardships. And we also supply some pet supplies. With that, we are keeping animals in loving homes and reducing shelter intakes and euthanasia.”

 

Feeding Cats and Dogs In Need Through Collective Help

Food Pantries for Cats and Dogs In Need | Paw Pet Pantry

According to Theresa, she and her husband have been donating to several food pantries across upstate New York.

Every time they ask the organizers if they also offer cat and dog food for pet parents, they will get a “no” response.

 

“They said that they can’t provide that because of zoning laws and other legal stuff. Then I asked them if they need cat and dog food for those people who are asking. Then bam, the proverbial lightbulb goes up. We needed to make this happen. That’s when we reached out to our local shelters and food pantry and asked if they wanted to partner with us.“

 

That’s when they started working on Paw Pet Pantry. With three rescue pets on their own – a dog and two tuxedo cats, better known as the Rescue Trio, they realize that not all animal needs are met especially for those pet parents who rely on food pantries.

Another important factor why they started Paw Pet Pantry is their collective love for animals.

 

“My husband, for the last five years, has been working in a tool and die company. And one day, a colony of six or eight cats showed up in the shop where he works. He started to take care of them and feed them. He also kept them warm since the winter here can be nasty.”

 

To make Paw Pet Pantry possible, Theresa started to reach out to people’s food pantries, and other non-profit organizations and even sought assistance from the Chamber of Commerce. 

 

“The Chamber of Commerce has about 120 people. But think about 120 people, how many people do they know? It’s like a massive spider web of people.”

 

With the support they are getting from volunteers and other organizations, it is undeniable that they will still get declined when asking for help.

However, this did not stop Paw Pet Pantry to branch out to more locations. 

 

“One thing, when we run into a food pantry that’s not interested in our program, that’s okay. There is always another one so keep going. You might reach out to ten food pantries, and there will always be three or four that will love your idea and partner with you.”

 

Years from now, Theresa envisions that there will be tens of thousands of Paw Pet Pantries.

The goal is to feed hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs in communities.

And with the tagline “Where no pet goes hungry”, this can be achievable with determination, teamwork, and passion.

Food Pantries for Cats and Dogs In Need | Paw Pet Pantry

“When you have a vision, go for it. Do not let anything stop you. If you’re opening a food pantry for pets, don’t take “no”. You just keep going and keep going. And ask the questions. There’s nothing like a stupid question. 

 

Learn more about Paw Pet Pantry!

Visit their website at https://pawpetpantry.org/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Theresa: I am Theresa Oschmann, and you’ve tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: I love it.

Great introduction, Theresa so, start us off. Tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Theresa: Chris, we are Paw Pet Pantry.

We are in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Our mission is: To provide no-cost cat and dog food to those in our community who are experiencing financial hardship.

And we also supply some limited pet supplies with that. We are keeping animals in loving homes and reducing shelter intakes and euthanasia.

It’s not just our pets, right? It’s what’s happening within that family. And it could be so much more because it’s like a domino effect, right?

So, it could be— there could be some sort of family crisis. Someone loses a job, loses a parent, whatever, and it’s just a domino effect of—

wow, this is so much bigger than my own community.

Chris: So, take us back to the point when you decided to do this. What was going through your mind? I mean, what gave you the idea that, hey, I need to make a difference here and start a pet pantry.

Theresa: Well, into the pandemic—

My husband and I donate to several of our local food pantries. And one time, I was making a delivery—and, you know, sometimes they say it’s so obvious that it’s not obvious, right?

And one of the things I noticed was, wait a minute, there’s no cat or dog food here, and they go: we can’t provide that. And I’m like, “Wow, okay.”

I said, so let me ask you this. Do you ask people when they come in, are you in the need for a cat or dog food? And they went, “No, we don’t.”

I’m like, “Wow, do you think you should?” And they’re like, “Well, it would make sense, but where would we send them?”

And bam, this needs to happen. So, how do we make it happen?

We reach out to our local shelters. We reach out to our local food pantries for people and say, “Hey, do you want to partner with us?” You can reach out to Paw Pet Pantry and see if they can help you, you know, meet your needs.

So, we’re building those relationships, gathering food, distributing as people reach out. And that’s where the idea came from.

Yes, and it is an important point because it does depend on the community whether they’re able to serve pet and human food from the same facility.

It’s very complicated. Once you really start looking into it, it’s not as easy as you would think.

Chris: So, Theresa, tell us a little bit about you. What’s your background? I mean, how did you get to this point?

Theresa: My background— my husband and I are both, we both love animals, and I joke that we are empty nesters, but it doesn’t really make sense because we share our home with a dog and two tuxedo kitties.

All three of them coming from the same rescue. Thus, the rescue trio.

Our hearts are big for animals and we contribute to the ASPCA. We have partnerships throughout.

And it’s just something, you know, the little souls, we have to do voices for them because they can’t speak for themselves.

Chris: What’s your vision for this?

It sounds like you’re at the early stages, but I’m guessing you have a big vision for what you can do to make an impact.

Theresa: Absolutely, we are right now in the process of getting trademarked our logo, and we’re looking to have Paw Pet Pantries nationwide and being able to fulfill the need in their respective communities.

So, my gosh, I can picture 2000, 5000, 10,0000 Paw Pet Pantries nationwide feeding thousands upon hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs in our community.

Maybe for people that are listening and saying: You know, starting a pet pantry sounds like a great idea.

Chris: What are the types of things they should be asking or how do they identify if there’s a need in their community?

Theresa: The way I started was going to my local food pantries, people pantries.

And if you’re not going in calling and asking the questions, do you supply cat and dog food? What would a pet food pantry look like?

Connect with them.

You ask those questions, are you doing it? Why aren’t you doing it? Are you asking those questions? Would you partner with us if we did it? What would that look like?

My mentor can open so many doors that I couldn’t without her. Her questions are instrumental in thinking, well, have you thought about it this way?

And then, as far as the Chamber of Commerce, we have several— where I’m located here in Penfield, New York.

I’m closest to a few, but one of the bigger ones is the Brighton Chamber of Commerce. I have another business.

And I said to myself, which one do you think? He says, “No, no, no you’ve got to commit with the Paw Pet Pantry.” People need to know about that. Our community needs that.

He said, you just need to commit with that. Everything else will fall into place, right. And I’m like, “You’re absolutely right, Dr. Clark. It will fall into place.”

Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

I love all these lessons, and I love the fact that you’re sharing this Theresa and it sounds like you’ve got a big vision for where this is going to go.

Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up today?

Theresa: You go for it. Don’t let anything stop you.

If you’re opening a food pantry for pets, don’t take no, you just keep going.

Chris: I love that.

So, where can people go to learn more about Paw Pet Pantry and to get in contact with.

Theresa: You’ll see our website, it’s pretty cool, but we’re adding things to it every day.

It is PAWPETPANTRY.ORG

On there is contact information, you can subscribe to our newsletter and I can throw up my cell phone number.

Feel free to text me or call. That number is 585-748-4719.

Chris: Well, as I wrap up the show here today, I love— I mean, you’re a perfect example, Theresa.

It just starts with an idea. You identified a need and you said, you know what, I don’t know anything about this, but I’m going to go figure it out.

And that’s what we love about celebrating on the show is innovation. So, maybe you’re somebody that’s watching or listening and you go, you know, I have an idea that can help animals or the people that love them, we’d like to know about it.

Just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and you can apply and come on the show and tell us about it.

And don’t forget to become a Dooberteer. Just go to DOOBERT.COM. Lots of volunteers are needed to be transporters, fosters so many different ways that you can help animals.

Just go to DOOBERT.COM and you can learn more.

So, Theresa, thank you very much for what you’re doing. Thank you for coming on and sharing and I’m excited to see what you’re going to do.

Theresa: Thank you for the opportunity, Chris.

I am grateful to have been able to be here.

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