A Community of Caring

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Life can deal harsh, unexpected blows. Events like job loss, a serious medical diagnosis, or divorce can turn a person or family’s life upside-down, often straining financial resources in the process. Anyone struggling to keep home, family, and life together well knows that when we feel most vulnerable, we want our pets by our side.

Petlandia is not only passionate about pets, but demonstrably committed to keeping pets and their people fed, healthy, and together. Fortunately for those in need, innovative, local nonprofits are there to help. You can help, too: next time you are at the pet store, consider buying an extra bag for one of the organizations below. To go even further, get another to keep in your car — chances are good while driving around town you’ll encounter someone who could use it.

Providing Sustenance

Knowing that tens of thousands of people struggle to feed themselves and their pets, the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank’s primary focus is fighting animal hunger to help keep families and pets together and reduce shelter populations. This can be life-saving for humans and animals alike. One client shared that when her life went to pieces, if she’d been forced to give up her dog she might have also given up on life. 

In addition to serving more than 10,000,000 meals to date, the Pongo Fund introduced Pongo One this year, a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary hospital providing free care for the pets of very low-income and homeless people, including seniors, veterans, and more.

In Clackamas County, the FIDO Pet Food Bank distributes food for dogs and cats and works with other agencies to deliver pet food to homebound seniors as well.

House-bound senior citizens often rely on Meals on Wheels America for meals, regular check-ins, and social interaction. In the past, workers discovered hungry seniors were giving up substantial parts of their own meals to feed their pets. Now, seniors with pets can request pet food along with their own meals.

In Washington County, the Cat Adoption Team partners with Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food to homebound clients.

Hope and Care

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When families struggle just to keep everyone fed, an unexpected medical bill can be catastrophic. Routine care, which can prevent big vet bills later in a pet’s life, isn’t always an option.

Good Neighbor Vet answers this need with clinics at partner businesses like pet supply stores and neighborhood retail outlets. Affordable rates for products and services and no-appointment-needed clinics held on weekends make it accessible to some who might not otherwise be able to find time while juggling work and family to get to the vet.

PAW Team works to bring life-saving care and medicine to pets of people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Clients include the terminally ill, disenfranchised youth, and military veterans.

Animal Aid is a broad-reaching organization with deep roots in the community. In addition to operating a shelter for homeless animals, the organization partners with PAW Team to spay and neuter pets through the C-SNIP program, and operates a Care Fund for emergency veterinary assistance in partnership with Portland veterinary clinics.

Keeping Families Intact

JOIN helped nearly a thousand local people last year transition from the streets to safe housing. The organization collects pet food and supplies so people can care for their animals while rebuilding their lives.

The Pixie Project is well known for its work in pet rescue and adoption. But the organization also works to keep pets in their homes by providing food, medical care, medications, and spay/neuter surgeries. 

Resources

AnimalAidPDX.org

CatAdoptionTeam.org/catfoodbank

FidoAniMeals.org

GoodNeighborVet.com

JOINpdx.org

MealsOnWheelsAmerica.org

PAWTeam.org

PixieProject.org

ThePongoFund.org


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A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan, has been around dogs her entire life - from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.

Sponsor a Bag for Pongo and Get a Tshirt!

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Your donation of $10 or more will go a long way — thanks to the volume of food provided by Pongo to individuals, food pantries, churches, veteran organizations and more, $10 has a lot of buying power.  

THANK YOU! from all of us at Spot Magazine, The Pongo Fund, and these fine businesses!

Feeding the animals is feeding and healing people.


Visit these fine businesses in the month of December to sponsor a bag and get a t-shirt!

3 Dogs Daycare
5430 NE 42nd Ave., Portland
3DogsBoardingandDaycare.com
Healthy Pets Northwest
1736 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland
HealthyPetsNW.com
Beaverton Toyota
4300 SW Murray Blvd., Beaverton
BeavertonToyota.com
Healthy Pets Northwest
7642 SW Capital Hwy., Portland
HealthyPetsNW.com
Canine Utopia
2309 Main Street, Vancouver
k9Utopia.com
Irvington Veterinary
1427 NE Fremont St., Portland
IrvingtonVeterinary.com
Cascade Veterinary Referral Center
11140 SW 68th Pkwy., Portland
CascadeVRC.com
LexiDog Boutique & Social Club
416 NW 10th Ave., Portland
LexiDog.com
Cooper Mountain Kennels
21150 SW Farmington Rd., Beaverton
CooperMountainKennel.com
LexiDog Boutique & Social Club
6100 SW Macadam, Portland
LexiDog.com
Dogs in the City
3255 NE Broadway St., Portland
DogsInTheCity.us
LexiDog Boutique & Social Club
2929 SE Powell Blvd., Portland
LexiDog.com
DogStar
1313 NW Kearney St., Portland
DogStarDaycare.com
Parkway Veterinary Hospital
3 Monroe Pkwy., Lake Oswego
ParkwayVet.com
Fang & Feather
1926 N. Kilpatrick St., Portland
FangAndFeatherPDX.com
Pet Barn
12675A NW Cornell Rd., Portland
PetBarnPDX.com
Good Neighbor Vet
See website for clinic locations
GoodNeighborVet.com
Salty's Dog & Cat Shop
4039 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland
SaltysDogShop.com
Heal Animal Massage
See website for current class locations
HealNW.com
Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union
1100 NW Murray Blvd., #200, Portland
SSPFCU.com
Healthy Pets Northwest
2001 NE Alberta St., Portland
HealthyPetsNW.com
Tails R Waggin' Doggy Day Care
4925 NW Fruit Valley Rd., Vancouver
TailsRWagginDoggyDaycare.com
Wentworth Subaru
400 E. Burnside St., Portland
WentworthSubaru.com

A journey of 5 millions meals

Larry Chusid, Executive Director, The Pongo Fund    Erik Schultz Photography

Larry Chusid, Executive Director, The Pongo Fund

Erik Schultz Photography

Larry Chusid’s back is killing him — so much 
 that he winces when he walks. But the founder of The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank has never missed a twice-monthly distribution day yet, and he’s not about to start now.

“I love being here,” he says. “I wanna be in this cold warehouse … I want to be in this place that is filled with so much love and so much goodness.  I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

A growing line of people stand patiently inside, hugging themselves in soggy sweaters and shaking out umbrellas and plastic bags. Many are trailing handcarts and backpacks that will soon be filled with high-quality food for the much-loved cats and dogs waiting at home or in the car.

One man explains to another how, in addition to his own felines, he also cares for a neighbor’s outdoor-only cats. He worries about them now that the weather is getting colder.

Further up the line an older woman is talking to the volunteer veterinarian about the health of the lumbering, arthritic black Lab panting at her side. There’s a happy hum inside these concrete walls; many of the volunteers and guests know each other well, and chat about their health, the weather, and of course, their beloved pets.

Sunday, Nov. 10th, The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank — which began out of the back of Chusid’s car just over four years ago — served up meal number 5 million.  It’s an astounding accomplishment, and one that makes Chusid both happy and sad in its reflection of the depth of need and the level of success.  “When I talk to somebody and they tell me they’re going hungry to keep their pet fed, I know that 30 volunteers can come here on a given Sunday and fix that problem, and that’s a good feeling.”

But the bags of kibble handed out here today will do much more than nourish a pet.  For many owners, it is the one thing keeping their family together. For some animals, it can make the difference between life and death. For Chusid, that pet food has the potential to be an agent of great social change.

He may very well be right.

The Road to Here

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The Pongo Fund is a community painstakingly built on trust. From the two-story-high stacks of kibble to the volunteers’ genuine effort to engage guests in conversation and call them by name, everything is designed to instill a sense of security, dependability, and calm.

It’s in that trust-based relationship The Pongo Fund has created that its founder sees opportunity beyond just helping hungry pets.

“Once you have that trust, you can take them to places they might not get to on their own,” explains Chusid.

An example of that is in the fact that Pongo has been able to persuade the owners of more than 1000 pets to have them spayed and neutered. “The significance of that is we’re not a spay-neuter organization, yet look what we’ve been able to do, simply by being a trust-based organization,” says Chusid.

He also points out that The Pongo Fund is benefitting the community as a whole both financially and socially by keeping pets with their families, and that feeding pets is a necessity when one looks to resolve the issue of hunger. “Without us the food box filled with people food simply becomes pet food,” he says. “They’re going hungry so their pets do not.”

And when a family becomes truly desperate, a pet will likely end up in a shelter — a much less cost-effective solution for any municipality, and one that can cause a whole family to unravel.

This mission to save families isn’t just limited to a couple of Sundays a month in Portland’s industrial district. The Pongo Fund provides pet food to over 100 different food pantries, rescues, and shelters in 28 Oregon and SW Washington counties, including Oregon Food Bank, Snowcap Charities, Neighborhood House, West Columbia Gorge Humane Society and Curry County Animal Shelter.

“We partner with many organizations to accomplish our mission, but The Pongo Fund is one of the best,” says Judy Alley, executive director of SnowCap Community Charities. “They enable us to provide what low-income pet owners need and deserve — the ability to feed everyone around the table.”

One more bowl of food, one more day a cat or dog gets to stay with its family, one more chance at a better outcome for everyone. Or, as Chusid puts it:  “We’re patching the hole from the inside.”

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Down the Road

Kassondra Young has been volunteering at The Pongo Fund for about a year. Her table will be the last stop for guests who have already filled out the requisite paperwork and are ready to pick up their pet food. She is heartened by what she sees when she comes here. “Regardless of their situation, people are always happy to be here because they’re happy they can feed their family.”

Volunteers are the lifeblood of The Pongo Fund, according to Chusid. “We have great people,” he says proudly. “This team could do anything — we are the textbook example of strength in numbers.”

That said, Chusid sees that the organization is now in need of very specialized volunteers and increased funding in order to realize its potential. “We need to grow our board. We need a programmer, we need good [computer] equipment. There are people in this community who have abilities and love a challenge.  I want to bring them together and help them understand that by feeding pets we’re helping feed and heal  people.” 

Spend a day at The Pongo Fund and the connection is easy to understand, as is Chusid’s passion for the cause. Stan Bland, who has been part of The Pongo Fund from the beginning, says working with Chusid is not always easy, but that it has been a great thing. “He’s very organized, he’s very precise, and he knows about the human spirit.”

Chusid also knows that while its goals are big, The Pongo Fund has already achieved much. “This is beyond what I saw. I didn’t know that we would make it four years.  Yet here we are."

Check out the Pongo Fund food drive happening in December, when you can sponsor a bag and get a T-shirt.  Click here for details.


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Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio.  When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter. 

CAT Food Bank is CLOSED

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July 14 was the last walk-in day at the food bank at Cat Adoption Team’s Sherwood shelter.  Going forward, CAT will “focus primarily on its partnership with Washington County Meals on Wheels and senior centers,” according to CAT spokespeople, who added that CAT is working to expand its reach to provide cat food and supplies to qualified seniors in need.  The CAT Food Bank was initially planned as a five-year program to provide a temporary resource for struggling cat owners, and the food bank’s 5th anniversary was June 9.  The folks at CAT say they did not make this decision lightly, understanding it would impact local cat owners, but that walk-in clients had declined over the past year.  Donations will continue to be needed to support the program’s partnership with Meals on Wheels and local senior centers.

Metro-area pet food banks operating regularly include The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank (ThePongoFund.org) and (usually dog food only) at Clackamas Dog Services (Fido-Clackamas.org).  Both serve the public on limited, specified days each month — check the websites for dates, policies and other information.

 

Pet food company donates to regional rescues

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The FreeHand has begun a buy-one-give-one campaign as part of launching a new line of holistic dry dog food.  For every pound of dog food purchased the company will donate one pound of food to a rescue or shelter in the area where the food was purchased.  Recipient rescues are designated by independent retailers who carry the brand.  The program rolled out in Dallas-Fort Worth, Southern California and Indianapolis.  FreeHand Managing Director Tom Bagamane says, “We’re passionate about this mission, which drives everything we do.  These food donations will buy more time for rescue dogs to find loving homes.”  To date, the company has donated more than six tons of food to rescues.  Details LendaFreeHand.com.

Dobby's Closet launches cat food drive

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Many families experiencing homelessness take their cats along and live with them in their cars.  Dobby's Closet Summer 2012 Canned Cat Food Collection, benefiting SnowCap, JOIN and other East County Companion Animal food pantries caring for the animals of the homeless and poor, kicks off July 7 at the Gresham Farmers Market 8am-2pm.  The Market celebrates canine friends with special treats for dogs and their people in July, and Dobby's Closet is asking friends to bring a can of cat food for those in need, and stop by and say hi!

The Pongo Fund

Caps Award-winning First Year

The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank is wrapping a very big first year this month. November 8th, the young nonprofit, which has quickly become a vital community resource, celebrates its one-year anniversary, and Larry Chusid, Pongo Fund’s creator and director, will receive the Spirit of Portland Humanitarian Award in a ceremony hosted by the City of Portland. The year began with Chusid and The Pongo Fund receiving the Veterinary Service Award of Excellence from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and the months between were rife with perhaps the greatest rewards of all: thousands of lives lifted, honored and served.