Spotlight on Pet Pantry Supporter: Dog-topia

By Amy Hempe

Entering Dog-topia one encounters loud, persistent barking punctuated by the occasional silence. The silence does not last for long as there is often something happening at this busy doggy daycare and boarding facility located in Denver on Lincoln and Alameda. Owner Erin Loughrey wouldn’t have it any other way.

Loughrey began her business back in 2002 on Fifteenth and Platt and moved the current location on Lincoln in 2010. People looking to work there have to possess a necessary blend of good customer skills first followed by dog skills, and it is shows as both customers and dogs are always greeted with big smiles.

Opening at the crack of dawn, or even before, at six-thirty in the morning, and closing at seven at night, dogs can spend their day socializing with up to one hundred other dogs, although the average day sees about seventy.

“Even though they have good bonds with the people who work here, the dogs usually just want dog time,” Loughrey explained in her typically cheerful manner. “Generally they don’t even want to hang out with humans.” They are closely supervised though. Rather than being separated by size, the staff puts them into groups based on the dogs’ temperaments so that calmer dogs can have a relaxing day while the more playful pooches can spend their day chasing one another. The dogs have roughly ten thousand square feet to play, and during the summer, swim in wading pools that the staff sets up outside.

About 1 p.m to 3 p.m. seems to be a down time for many of the dogs as they have burned off a lot of their earlier energy. Then they get revved up again for the late afternoon pick ups. Owners are happy to have a tired dog at the end of the day although Loughrey laughs and is quick to point out that dogs are “completely different here than they are at home.” Considering most of us do not have seventy dogs to hang out with at home, this is completely believable.

And while most of the dogs belong to Denver residents, a few of the pups who hang out at Dog-topia have been rescued by the Aurora-based dog rescue organization DMK Rehoming and are looking for forever homes.

Dog-topia is one of many businesses that accepts pet food donations on our behalf–see the full list of partners here. We then distribute the pet food at pet food banks. Learn more about this important Colorado Pet Pantry supporter Dog-topia or visit their FaceBook page.

Perfectly Good Pet Food is Better in Bellies than in Landfills

duct-tapeIn honor of Earth Day 2015… Here’s one of the beautiful side effects of the pet food bank, and this is why we spend so much time at the warehouse after every large donation.

We use a lot of duct tape at the Colorado Pet Pantry. It’s a small price to pay for the tens of thousands of pounds of pet food we’re able to salvage.

Almost all of the pet food bags that are donated from pet food suppliers or stores are damaged in some way. Accidents happen. Bags fall off store shelves and split open. Forklifts miss their mark. Glues don’t always hold. Zippers get caught.

We duct tape the heck out of things. Sometimes it’s not pretty. But it’s secure.

Then, separate from physical damage, there are pet food bags that are instantly ruined by an expiration date… When’s the last time you went through your pantry and chucked everything that was a few months past its “Best By” date?

In all of these cases, pet food companies and stores can’t sell it.

But nonprofits like us can absolutely use it.

And the landfills are grateful for the reprieve.

Happy Earth Day, and thanks for helping us to recycle!

Database Vs. Endless Paperwork | Wish List

The work behind the scenes of a pet food bank is immense. I was describing the work that we do to a volunteer today and my words were, “It’s pretty simple. The client needs pet food. We have pet food.” But it’s so much more than that. We need to find the pet food, store it, keep a decent inventory, transport it to pet food bank locations, find volunteers to distribute, keep track of how much food we give out, take the remaining food back to the warehouse and fundraise for all the above.

I always wish there was more time in the day. One thing we really need, and it would save hours upon hours every week, would be a database. Three to four more hours a week for myself and volunteers would mean more time for all of the other things on the list that need to be tackled.

Because in the end, if it was as easy as “they need pet food, we have pet food” we could help so many more pets and families. And that’s good for everyone.

I would be very happy to explain in-depth what we need in a database to any developer who would be willing to listen and potentially work on this project with us. The gist is we track and report on how much pet food we distribute at each pet food bank and how much each client receives (for as long as they come to the pet food bank).

It started out as a nice little Excel spreadsheet.

Now, for our largest pet food bank (which is just one out of five locations) we have 481 clients, which when printed so that we can check people into the pet food bank, is 24 pages.

Our ideal scenario (at least the way I am imagining this) would be to scrap the paper and use electronic tablets to record this information and input it directly into a database. We would need to be able to enter new clients, and then to be able to search and add to current clients each time they visit the pet food bank. And we’d need to be able to report totals on the various fields.

If you have ideas, please contact us. We would be grateful for any help or advice.


Eileen, Colorado Pet Pantry Executive Director