“Pet Pantries” Feed Dogs in Need Through Online Shopping

When you shop at "give back" sites, companies give dog food and treats to shelters and food banks. You click, dogs eat!


You want to help dogs in need. But how often have you felt helpless about the tide of images scrolling across your Facebook page? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the click of your mouse could help feed dogs?

Now, one click, when you shop, can do something. If your favorite rescue is involved in a “give back,” everyone wins. You shop, and the store gives a percentage of sales to the rescue group. For example, Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue gets money when you shop at certain sites. One caveat: You need to click through the website link in order for the rescue group to get the credit.

Recently, Blue Dog Bakery announced the launch of Pet Treat Pantry, a partnership between the Seattle-based all-natural dog treat company and select food banks in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Jersey. Through December, people who purchase specially marked boxes of Blue Dog Bakery treats can help fill the pantries of food banks with healthy dog treats. To kick off the program, Blue Dog Bakery donated more than 4,500 boxes of treats to food banks and expects to donate 100,000 before the end of the year.

Pet pantries are emerging in parts of the country to help feed family pets in need. Sara Henderson and Susan Holler applied a similar concept to shelters.

Sara knew she wanted to make the world a better place for animals -– she put that phrase on a “vision board” in 2008 –- and she started the process in 2009 when she founded the Pet Project Midwest. Her concept: Buy a bag of dog food, and her group will give a bag to a shelter pet in the same area where the food was bought.

If you are anything like me, when you donate to a rescue group that is not in your area, you really hope (and cross your paws) that the money is used to feed and save dogs affiliated with that group. Sara and Susan agreed, so for every bag of their BOGO Bowl dog food purchased, they ship the equivalent of the same food to a nonprofit shelter of the buyer’s choice.

So if we can click and donate, can kids do the same? 16-year-old Mimi Ausland created Freekibble when she was 11 to help feed the homeless dogs and cats at her local animal shelter. As two of the five most-visited animal rescue web sites in the world, Freekibble and Freekibble Kat have more than 115,000 combined daily visitors.

Every time you go to Freekibble and play Bow Wow Trivia, a fun game testing animal knowledge, the site donates kibble to animal shelters. Testing your pet knowledge, having fun, and feeding dogs: Click, click, click.

In 2010, Halo, Purely for Pets, a company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres, became the official pet food sponsor for Freekibble. (Halo was also the official sponsor of Shelter Me, the PBS film featuring the positive impact shelter pets make on humans’ lives.)

Say you don’t want to shop, but still want to do something. Consider sponsoring a dog. I send $10 a month to a Cocker Spaniel rescue and foster group. Folks who foster a dog need all the help they can get, so I know that cash makes a difference. I hear about the vet bills, the supplies needed, and the simple but necessary items it takes to keep a dog going until he or she finds a forever home. “A walk through the kennels, and one realizes these dogs are barking for their lives,” says Terry Humerickhouse of Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue, summarizing why he has fostered more than 150 dogs in his lifetime.

Have you clicked through to help a dog today? What’s your favorite way to assist dogs in need? Let us know in the comments!

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