Inspired by a recent reading of Where the Red Fern Grows, in which the main character saves change in a can in order to purchase two puppies, Leo, a local 10-year-old boy had a vision to collect change in a can to support animals in need. He brought the idea to his sister, 8-year-old Gracie, and together they laid out a plan to launch their first “business” called Funds for Furry Friends.
They started by designing a flyer, with Leo writing the text and Gracie drawing the visual. From there, they took to the streets of their neighborhood—going door to door to kick off their donation campaign. While their goal was originally to collect change—inspired by their cause and initiative, many community members choose to donate in larger sums.
Through their focus and follow through, within just a few days, Leo and Gracie had collected $85 in donations, which will help Colorado Pet Pantry feed 17 pets in need for a full month.
Thank you to Leo and Gracie for your entrepreneurial leadership in service of animals in need—and everyone in their Louisville neighborhood who supported their truly grassroots effort!
2020 Was a Year of Unprecedented Growth at Colorado Pet Pantry
2020 was quite a year for all of us, in many different ways. At Colorado Pet Pantry we saw the need for pet food assistance grow exponentially. We were ready. Over the prior years we had been building our infrastructure, and developing our network of donation locations, volunteers, and supporters. We were unknowingly preparing for something we never saw coming. When COVID arrived, we were ready to help our community keep their families together. We all saw how important the company of our furry friends were during that time (and still today), and we were honored to have the opportunity to take part in preserving those relationships.
When we put together the numbers, not just from last year, but from in comparison to our first year, 2013 until now, we were shocked. The exponential curve is clear as day. The need is growing, and we are right there with it. Let’s take a look…
We started in 2013 with one pet food bank in Denver. We provided one month’s supply of pet food to 858 pets that year, and began developing our system to help those who were struggling to feed their pets. Each year we grew exponentially larger. We worked out the kinks in our system and continued to develop relationships with human food banks and other partner nonprofits in an attempt to streamline our services.
We didn’t want our clients to have any difficulty using our services. It’s not easy to have to go to one place to get human food, and another place to get pet food. We envisioned a one-stop-shop for foodand supplies.
We ended 2020 with over 80 pet food bank locations, and currently, in August of 2021 we have 94 pet food banks across the state of Colorado. In 2020, we distributed 943,807 lbs of dry pet food and 120,633 cans of wet food, serving more than 5.1 million meals across the state to pets in need.
These numbers blew away previous years as we grew and reached areas in the state we had only dreamed about in the past. We knew there was a need in areas such as the Western Slope, Southeast Colorado, and the Eastern Plains. Thanks to this growth, we were able to help 37,093 families keep their pets home with them, and out of the shelters.
Now in 2021, we are the largest pet food pantry in the USA. We are distributing pet food in 29 counties across the state and assisting 100 animal rescues with food and supplies. We are always adding new locations and new partners.
We are continuing to build our infrastructure by adding staff and acquiring trucks to help with transport and deliveries. We are reaching out to populations and developing relationships in areas we never dreamed we’d be.
Sweet Kupka is a 13 year old kitty from Boulder and his human, Tori, visits the EFAA Pet Food Bank. Like many older cats, Kupka requires a substantial amount of wet food in order to thrive. Tori is on Social Security and a very tight budget. She shares, “we are grateful that Colorado Pet Pantry is able to help us through the generosity of their supporters.”
In 2020, Colorado Pet Pantry distributed over 120,000 cans of wet food across the entire state of Colorado. Through the generosity of its donors, Colorado Pet Pantry has been able to ensure many cats like Kupka get the nutrition they need in order to stay healthy and happy. If you would like to make a donation visit coloradopetpantry.org/donate today.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, families across the state have struggled with lost income, mounting expenses, and in many cases, a choice of whether to feed their pet or themselves. This situation is what often leads people to make the heartbreaking decision to surrender their pets to a shelter. Not only is that hard on the pet, but also on the owner, who loses their companion and emotional support, something that is needed most during a pandemic. Studies have shown that pets can improve a person’s mental and emotional well-being, leading to less stress and a better-functioning immune system, which is why it is important to help others in our community keep their pets in their home.
Colorado Pet Pantry is committed to helping families keep their pets fed during challenging times by providing food, treats, and supplies. We are proud to have been able to help so many people throughout the past year. We asked some of our clients to share how Colorado Pet Pantry has helped them during the pandemic. Read on to hear what they had to say about how your support is making a difference in your community!
“I’ve experienced some challenging times in the past 12+ months. I was very fortunate to receive unemployment insurance, which kept a roof over the heads of myself and my beloved dog, Coco.
Colorado Pet Pantry, without question or judgment, showed up at Bienvenidos Food Bank to offer nourishment and sustenance for Coco. I am teary eyed writing this testament to the beautiful hearts and assistance provided to those of us who are genuinely in need by the selfless people at the Colorado Pet Pantry. My dog is my family, my heart, and it has always meant so much to me to know that she had food in her bowl when I was struggling just to keep a roof over our heads. I will forever be grateful!”
“Gracie, my Labradoodle and best friend, was rescued at one year old from a shelter in Illinois after my spouse passed away. Little did I know after moving to Colorado that I would be in a pickle with finances.
The loneliness is sometimes difficult especially this year with COVID, but she is always there, so excited to see me when I get home and sleeps on my husband’s side of the bed. It is worth every bit of pickiness in food that she gives me. Some of the food I get would be totally unaffordable for me. She is my love even though she is a princess and likes to be spoon fed sometimes! Thank you for all that you do and for keeping Gracie happy and fed well.” stock photo used here
“Colorado Pet Pantry and Cindy (from the Emergency Pet Food Assistance Team), our guardian angel, have been wonderful. She reached out to us in critical moments for our family when we weren’t able to afford our pets’ food. Our pets gave our children companionship and emotional support. Like a blessing, Cindy found us and she’s never let us go. She is always reaching out to us, delivering when we had no vehicle, getting our pets updated on their shots, and getting our pets spayed and neutered at no cost through pet mobile. We are blessed. Thank you for all you’ve provided.”
“We adopted the white one [dog] during COVID, not knowing my husband would lose his job and my business would have to shut temporarily. Colorado Pet Pantry has helped by not taking away from our food budget. It was also nice to be able to vaccinate an overdue dog with the help of the voucher. We will also be neutering the pup on Tuesday. We are thankful that CPP has helped us in so many ways. I can’t wait for the time to give back by volunteering to help this great group.”
“While COVID came, we had hardships, but you helped feed them!”
“I’m a single mom on unemployment because of COVID, and finances are really tight. Being able to get dog food from Colorado Pet Pantry has provided some much-needed relief. Thank you so much!”
“You all have been a blessing to us, including our little Bell. She’s looking forward to supper just like us and trying to stay home with COVID-19 running wild. Due to health conditions, things are short. She only has one tooth, and they give her food she can eat. I really feel they care. God bless everyone for helping us.”
“I was accepted into the program in March right as COVID was spreading across the US. With so many people being laid off and jobs becoming scarce, I was worried about how I would be able to provide for my cat Clover.
Colorado Pet Pantry has been a tremendous blessing to us by providing Clover with food and giving me security in knowing she’ll always be fed, even if I need to rely on community help.
CPP also has different cat food each time I go, so Clover never gets bored with her meals. I’m incredibly thankful for what CPP provides through their outreach program and that they’re able to not only help provide meals for Clover, but meals for other pets who may need a little extra assistance.”
“You saved BackUp, Prancer, and Pierre when my work hours were drastically cut due to COVID-19! Thank you so much!!”
“Money is tight because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to Colorado Pet Pantry I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to feed my sweet fur baby, Socks. Because he deserves nothing but the best 💕”
“The Colorado Pet Pantry has helped me feed Milo and Salem while in between jobs during COVID-19 and being high risk. I will be forever thankful for CPP and all the wonderful people who help put this together. Thank you so much!”
“I’m a solitary senior with heart disease and fixed income that isn’t enough for Colorado. My pets give me critical emotional contact, even before the pandemic. Now I’m in permanent quarantine.
On my income, I can only feed my pets the cheapest food. Thanks to Colorado Pet Pantry, they eat wholesome food. They all have glossy coats and enjoy good health.” stock photo used
“Your program helped our family a lot by providing food for our pets. Because of the pandemic, we are struggling financially, and we hardly have money to buy food for the family and our pets. We appreciate your kindness.”
Throughout the pandemic we have seen exponential growth in the amount of people and pets in need of our services. What has surprised us just as much is the amount of giving that has accompanied this growth. As people are in higher need of assistance, people are also stepping up and giving what they can in ways we’ve never seen before. We have been in awe of the support we have received in light of many missed fundraisers, due to COVID.
The people who have been helped through your support of the Colorado Pet Pantry are your neighbors, sisters, brothers and friends. People like Heidi from Weld County who visits us at the Longmont Pet Food Bank.
Heidi is the graceful guardian of four wonderful dogs. Heidi’s dogs are more than wonderful companions. They are also “Colorado Mountain Dogs” who protect Heidi’s flocks of chickens and doves from predators.
Heidi lives in Eastern Colorado and says, “before I had my Colorado Mountain Dogs (CMD), I would regularly lose birds to predators, but have not lost a single one since the CMD’s began their guarding duties.”
In 2016, Heidi found herself in an unfortunate, yet very common situation. After going through a divorce and being unable to work, due to a chronic medical condition, she was at the point of not being able to afford food for her four dogs. “They go through a 50lb bag of kibble every ten days! While I worked hard to get back on my feet, Colorado Pet Pantry made it possible for me to not only keep my dogs, but keep them well fed.”
We are so fortunate to have the ability to help amazing women like Heidi. It is thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we can do this work, which we are so passionate about.
Without the help of Colorado Pet Pantry, Heidi estimates she would have had to re-home at least three of her four dogs. “It would be devastating to see them go. Especially because my daughter and I are already facing so many difficult life changes. Having pets provides an emotional cushion for us, so it goes without saying that this program has truly made a huge difference in our family.”
“We take misfit dogs..” says Mitzi, owner and guardian of Lady Mae the German Shepherd. Lady has a unique set of thumbs on both her front and hind legs. Due to this deformity, if you can even call it that, her previous owner cast her as useless to him and her guardian angels (his neighbors), swooped in to her rescue.
“When we got her she was just bones, skinny. You could see her hip bones, her ribs, and she had a big arch in her back because of the small kennel she had stayed in.” Her previous owner’s brother managed to get Lady to safety in the hands of Jefferson, Mitzi and McKayla. After less than a year in their care, and with the help of Colorado Pet Pantry, Lady showed incredible signs of love, care, and thank goodness – some weight.
Mitzi has been coming to Colorado Pet Pantry’s Jewish Family Service food bank and says, “having the food is a tremendous help.”
Thanks to the love and support of our Colorado community, we are able to continue to help so many dogs like Lady stay in homes they deserve and with people who care, love, and are able to feed them all the food they need to thrive.
As Christy waits in line at our Community Ministry Pet Food Bank with her best friend Paco, it’s clear these two are meant for each other. As she describes how Paco’s soothing energy saved her husband, while lying with him in the hospital bed, their true friendship and bond shows through. There is a calm and quiet understanding between these two as they wait among several excited and barking dogs.
Christy has been coming to our pet food banks for three years now. “I have to take care of him. Vet payments and food costs are money that I don’t have. With Colorado Pet Pantry, there is a resource for someone like me to take good care of my dog,” Christy shares.
It’s stories like these we hear time and time again at our pet food banks. These stories continue to encourage us to push further, expand our reach, and continue to be a resource for those who love their pets, and despite financial hardships, strive to do the best for them.
Lucien and her family walked into the Dumb Friends League with tears in their eyes and said they needed to surrender their beloved dog. The staff member at DFL quickly realized it all came down to food. Lucien’s family was going through hard times. They had a few pets, and she was the one that needed the most food. Without money to buy pet food, let alone human food, the family decided they needed to bring her to the shelter so that another family could love her.
But Lucien already had a loving family.
The staff member at DFL handed Lucien’s family a Colorado Pet Pantry flyer, and there was a pet food bank the very next day. The family had never heard of the pet food bank, but it was the answer that solved their most heart-breaking problem.
By award-winning writer, and President of the Dog Writers Association of America, Jen Reeder, published in Colorado Expression Magazine!
A FEW YEARS AGO, Anthony Valle’s career was booming. With a doctorate in business administration and years of experience as a successful senior project manager for numerous Fortune 500 companies, his skills were in demand. So when he was offered a lucrative contract to work in Denver, he drove from New York with his wife, young daughters and their beloved dogs to the Centennial State.
But fortune can be fickle. A week after arriving, Valle found himself unemployed due to legal wrangling between his employer and another company. Suddenly job offers dried up; aside from managing one major fiber-optic project, he hasn’t found work in his field for two years. Instead, he maintains a low-income job to help keep his family afloat until something more promising pans out. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Valle said. “We went from having a beautiful home to living in a hotel. It’s been a really hard road.”
The Valles have stayed close throughout their hardships—both with one another and with their dog, Cleo. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a registered emotional support dog who loves to snuggle, take walks and sleep in bed with Valle’s daughters every night. But due to allergies, Cleo needs special dog food, which became increasingly challenging to provide. “It would have been extremely devastating to every one of us if we would have had to give up Cleo because we couldn’t afford to take care of her,” Valle said.
Fortunately, the Colorado Pet Pantry stepped in. The nonprofit, founded in 2013, helps keeps pets in the families that love them by providing dog and cat food to people in need. The pet food bank “brought us peace of mind,” Valle said. “We’re sure that Cleo’s going to be healthy and taken care of.”
“We live month-to-month but normally everything works out somehow. This month there was just no way for us to make rent and buy dog food (which has to be one of the worst feelings in the world)! They are our family and we love them like family. I just don’t even know what we would have done without you guys and can’t thank you enough! I hope you know how important the work you do is!”
A lot has changed since Gabriel came into my life. “Gabe” was born April 8, 2008 at 4 lbs., and I was 500 lbs+. I was working in sales for a tech start up and in social work as a crisis counselor. We trained, hiked and went to the dog park multiple times a day. Gabe became an incredibly well-socialized 200-pound lovable giant and I lost 200 lbs.! Talk about the health benefits of owning a pet.
Recently, after caring for my dad who has now passed away, working two jobs, and undergoing surgery to truly get my weight in check, I found myself physically burned out. Drastic measures were necessary to heal. This meant leaving both social work and sales; high-stress, demanding careers I’d been in for 20 years. Although I was 40, all of the starting over had me feeling closer to 4.
Learning to live a very different life — without my dad, nearly 400 lbs. lighter, and in deep need of new career skills knocked me on my butt! Thankfully, in the past year, the Colorado Pet Pantry provided quality kibble for Gabe when my income didn’t allow me to buy it.
Gabe IS the family I have here in Colorado. He’s my bright spot. From weight loss to stress reduction, he has literally saved my life time and again. All that I’ve faced has been tough, but the Colorado Pet Pantry has eased my load as I get back on track. To think of how the Colorado Pet Pantry is assisting others through the difficult parts of their own journeys encourages me. It’s crazy how hope can be found in a bag of dog food! During this time of bright lights and offering hope, may we all receive a joy as rich as what I receive from Gabe. And, in turn, may we all have the fortune of spreading such joy.
Here’s a note straight from one of our wonderful clients. She ran out of pet food yesterday and has been using her family’s small supply of ground beef to feed her dogs. We told her about our new pet food bank near downtown Denver at DICP that begins tomorrow, so she’ll be able to get what she needs sooner than later. “I love my dogs with my life. I want them to be healthy. Thank you for being so concerned with the health of my pets.”
A woman and her two kids, six and two years old, came to one of our partner food banks, Denver Inner City Parish, in 2014. While she was getting food for her family, she was relieved to learn that the Colorado Pet Pantry pet food bank was also there that day to help with pet food. She’s had her 10-year old female Shar Pei, Mocha, since she was a puppy. But when they moved from Florida to Colorado in hopes of finding a better job, the family was left with even less support and now teeters on the edge of not being able to feed the furry family member. It had been three days since Mocha had a solid meal. But mom couldn’t imagine giving her up and didn’t want to contemplate what that loss would do to her children.
“I’m barely feeding my children, it’s nearly impossible to feed the dog,” she said.
That day, she left the food bank with food for her family and Mocha, and she knows that we’ll be there, in the same spot once a month so she and her family will be able to stay together even when times are tight.