This is Luna. She's a pit bull. But she's also quite possibly the world's happiest and sweetest friend. And she's one of the more than 70,000 beloved family pets that The Pongo Fund has saved. Because our volunteer-driven and award winning organization was there for her, and for all of them, when they needed us most. During the toughest of times when they were hungry. And at risk of being surrendered to area shelters. Simply because their own families were temporarily unable to keep them fed.
That was it. For lack of a bowl of kibble they were one step away from being euthanized. Not because they were unwanted or unloved. Because they were hungry.
Be they single moms, veterans, seniors, your grandmother, the hard-working but underemployed, proud grandfathers, the disabled, senior citizens, the unemployed, the neighbors next door and anyone else in honest need, we are here for them when they have nowhere else to turn. Because hungry people have hungry pets.
During the past five years we’ve provided more than 7,000,000 premium quality meals for more than 70,000 animals. But not just in Portland, Oregon. We’ve also met the need in dozens of other cities that received food thanks to our volunteer team of Kibble Couriers.
We do this work in a way not done anywhere else. And shelter statistics throughout our community show that what we do is working. Keeping family pets safe at home and out of the shelters.
And that’s why we’ve become a national model for new ways to help both people and their pets simultaneously.
Best Friends Animals Society, one of America’s most admired organizations, said this about The Pongo Fund: “The best way to reduce shelter populations is to keep animals out of the shelters to begin with. The Pongo Fund has developed that very program. They’re doing something innovative in Portland that’s making a huge difference.”
But that’s not all. We’ve also been instrumental in facilitating the Spay/Neuter of more than 1,000 family pets.
Quite simply, The Pongo Fund gives a chance to animals that might not otherwise have a chance and gives hope to families that have little else to be hopeful for. Because sometimes a simple bowl of kibble is the force that both keeps a family together and saves the lives of the animals they love.
Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
Getting Earl and Pearl to stay still long enough for a photo was my challenge. Because they wanted to give kisses and get pets. But it’s nothing compared to their challenges. The challenges they face every day. Because for Earl and Pearl and their Dad Kirby, clean sheets, soft pillows and hot showers are far-away dreams when you’re living on the street. Far more important things take precedence. A dry place to sleep. Shoes and socks. Prayers. Dog food.
Some people have been down on their luck for so long that just a little bit of luck seems like a jackpot. Because the challenges that you and I face just fade away for someone living on the streets. They don’t complain about their $6.00 coffee drink being made wrong. Or the traffic on the way to work. Or the slow internet connection. They don’t sweat it. They just hope to survive.
But the things you and I take for granted are their daily struggles. Yet they still find a way to navigate those struggles with grace. While we may pop dinner in the oven and sit in a comfy chair in front of the TV, their dinner line may be two hours long.
And then finding that the person just in front of them may have received the last serving of their favorite mashed potatoes. The very person that was having an even worse day so they carefully let them cut in front of them in line. But they look ahead.
Because maybe tomorrow they will get the coveted mashed potatoes.
We crossed paths with Earl and Pearl and Kirby during a Pop-Up Pongo. One of those days when we head out into the community and spend some time reconnecting with the most fragile people living outdoors. We go armed with high-quality food for both people and pets. Sleeping bags. Towels. Socks. Collars. Leashes. Coats for two and four-legged alike. And always, always, always lots of smiles.
The people we meet are deeply appreciative. They say we're a blessing. Taking only what they desperately need and leaving the rest for the next person. Because they know the next person may have it even worse. But what really sets the tone is the joy when we hand someone a bag of dog or cat food.
But Kirby was different. When I asked if he needed dog food he politely said he likely would not want our food. Because he was very specific about the food he fed Earl and Pearl. I asked what kind of food he was feeding and he took a step closer to me and said in a soft tone as if he were sharing a special secret, “I only use the Pongo dog food. Because that’s the best.”
And I about fell over.
Because he had no idea I was part of The Pongo Fund. And that I may have even delivered the last bag of kibble he picked up at one of the many food pantries that we provide kibble to. He didn’t know that because he’d never been to our pet food bank in person. And my Pongo tshirt was covered by another shirt.
Rather, he thought I was someone offering him food he did not want. And he was most graciously saying thank you, but no thank you. Because his dogs were his life. And he would not risk feeding them low quality food.
I then opened my outer shirt, happily displaying the Pongo logo on my tshirt underneath. Kirby stepped back for just a second and said “YOU work with Pongo?” And I said yes. And then I said not only do I work with them, but Pongo was my dog.
In a split second this gracious man who loved his dogs more than anything had to clear his throat. The words still did not come. He then cleared it a second time and said “Thank you. You’ve saved us many times.”
And then he turned to the incredibly happy and well-cared for Earl and Pearl and said “That’s where your food comes from. Pongo was his dog!”
I then needed to clear my throat a couple of times too. All because of the blessing of a bag of dog food.
Remembering to count our blessings may be the best blessing of all. And today was a reminder of those blessings. Because today is when we met Earl, Pearl and Kirby.
And this is why we Pongo.
He approached the garbage can outside the store in a way that told me he had done it many times before. Gently pulling the lid to the side and peeking inside, seeking the treasure he would redeem a nickel at a time.
But this particular garbage can was messy. The lid was askew and there was garbage on the ground outside the can. It wasn’t pretty.
I was stopped at a red light and watched it happen. Lid off. Peek inside. Lid on again. I could quickly see by the man’s actions that this can held no treasure.
Yet when he was finished he didn’t just walk away. Instead he bent down and picked up the loose garbage and placed it inside the can. And then he made sure the lid was on straight and secure when he was finished.
And then he and his best friend rolled off, having left this little piece of the world in better shape than they found it.
But before I saw any of that, what I saw was the dog. A sweet boy riding around in a shopping cart. That’s what first caught my eye.
At the next block I caught up with them, parked and said hello. His name was Tim; he’s the one on his knees behind the cart. And inside the cart riding like royalty was nine-month old Ted. They’d been together since Ted was a tiny 6 weeks old.
This happened in Portland, Oregon. But it could have been anywhere. But luckily it was in Portland. Because The Pongo Fund was there to help.
On the road with a dream to get back home to Iowa. But not too fast. First they were going to visit some old friends and make some new ones. And then they’d hit the road for the highway home.
I asked if Ted needed food and Tim said they would be honored. And when he opened his Oregon Public Broadcasting logo satchel to put the food inside, what I saw was a meticulously organized bag filled with Ted’s supplies. Food and more food. Water bowl. Extra leash. Vet records. It would have made every organizing expert proud.
And the best part? The food they already had was our Pongo food. Food they’d received earlier from one of the many other groups that we provide food to.
We talked for a few moments but what I really wanted to know was more about Ted and the shopping cart. Because I wanted to make sure that he was ok.
And that’s when Tim gave me a funny look. Like maybe I’d asked a question that I should not have asked. Like maybe there was something hidden inside the cart that Ted was sitting on to keep it hidden. But I was wrong.
Because at that moment Tim reached down and pushed on and lifted and fluffed the assorted goods that Ted was sitting on to show me how cushy and comfortable it was for Ted. And at that same moment Ted turned his head backward and gave Tim a smooch. But that wasn’t all.
Because Tim then went on to say that it was way too hot for him to let Ted walk on the already scorching sidewalk. Kindly explaining to me that a dog’s paws are no different than our own bare feet. Further explaining how easily a dog’s paws can become burned and how painful that would be and how we need to remember if it’s too hot for us then it’s surely too hot for them.
He then said his own feet were hot and he was wearing shoes. And there was just no way he’d let Ted burn his paws on these hot days. And upon hearing that I broke into the biggest grin because it was just what I wanted to hear.
A man living his life in a way that surely was not always easy. Yet making sure along the way that his dog had it easier.
But Tim wasn’t a large man, and Ted weighed a good 65 pounds. Meaning that getting Ted into that cart could not be easy. And I asked him about that; how he gets Ted into and out of the cart?
And he looked at me again with his easy smile, and said “we do it together.”
Tim and Ted. Ted and Tim. On the road together. Fueled by The Pongo Fund.
This sweet creampuff is Luna. A four-year-old pitbull that’s known far more than her share of tough times. But not anymore. Because her life today is filled with love. And that’s why she never stops wagging her tail. Wag. Wag. Wag. Hi! My Name Is Luna and I’m A Happy Girl. Wag. Wag. Wag. I Must Wiggle My Butt and Dance. Wag. Wag. Wag. I Must Kiss Your Face. Wag. Wag. Wag.
But without The Pongo Fund Luna’s tail would not be wagging. And there would be no more dancing. Because without The Pongo Fund, Luna would be going hungry. And worse.
In many other communities across the country, dogs like Luna don’t have a chance. But thanks to The Pongo Fund, things are different in Portland. And that means when Luna’s family found her but could not afford all of her needed care, The Pongo Fund worked to get her spayed and vaccinated. And we continue to be here for her during those times when her family is temporarily unable to afford all of the food to keep her fed.
Today Luna is happy and healthy and loved. She has a wonderful home and a family that loves her. A family that she loves very much in return.
Luna is just one of the many hundreds of beloved pitbulls that have been helped by The Pongo Fund. They are alive today because we were here to help them when they had nowhere else to turn.
Helping Luna and tens of thousands more family pets just like her. Keeping them safe at home and out of the shelters. That’s the work we do. And your generous contributions keep us going. Because the truth is, we’re all in this together.
Peace. Love. Kibble. thepongofund.org
It was back in January when we began the year with puppies in a box. There were four of them, all little girls just a few weeks old. Tucked tight next to their exhausted Mom Freya. A Mom that was only 14 months old. Really still just a puppy herself. All were living inside a small cardboard box, the property of a homeless couple that took them along as they stood on a bridge onramp asking for money. And sometimes they got loose and ran onto the bridge as cars zoomed by. That is where we found them. They were filthy and hungry and sad.
But the sad stories were quickly left behind as all received full vet exams, vaccinations and were spayed. And each one of those puppies found new homes. And so did Freya. She now leads a life of luxury, spending her days going on long walks and eating like a queen. She goes to daycare, gets massage, plays with BFF’s and has more beds and blankets than anyone can possibly count. She hit the jackpot. But so did her new Mom. Because Freya is awesome!
Your donations for the Freya Scholarship Fund helped us provide the lifesaving care this little family needed. Food, medical and more. And thanks to you they’re all doing fantastic. Just take a look at the photo of Freya, sunning in her backyard. A real backyard. Not a cardboard box. From where she was to where she is…it’s a world of difference. Doesn’t every animal deserve that?
We’ve quietly rescued many more since then. And our Freya Fund is now depleted. Please consider a donation to help us build that fund back up so we can continue to step in and save the lives of those little innocents when they need us most. Because you know they would do it for you. Even better, every single Global Giving donation until December 31 will be matched by a generous Pongo donor. Won't you please help?
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