The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank

by The Pongo Fund

New York. Chicago. Seattle. Portland and more. Two cats on the Lower East Side in New York going hungry. So was the woman who loved them. All of them seniors, two and four-legged alike. So she reached out to The Pongo Fund for cat food. 

80+ years old and asking for help. Not for herself. For her kitties. From New York. Why? Because someone at the mission where she gets her meals told her about us. She had no idea where we were or what we did. All she knew is that someone told her we could help. We did.

The single Mom in Chicago has a dog. One dog and lot of kids. Some she birthed and some that came to her when a family member could no longer care for them. The month had been extra tough. The dog food was almost gone. Her caseworker said a little bit of help would make a big difference. She heard about us from someone she met who used to live in Portland. Could we help in Chicago? We did.

Several in and around Seattle needed help too. It’s only 168 miles away. Yes we did.

Closer to home, the woman who finally left her abusive husband was now safe at an Oregon shelter. With a hungry cat and little else. Could we help? Yes. A few more non-cat things too, because we knew they were needed without being said.

The man that stopped by our open door when we were not open. His face showed struggles. And his shoes did too. Toes sticking out. He didn’t need dog food. He just needed a place to sit down for a few minutes. He relaxed with a bottle of water and a banana.

Then he fell asleep in our chairs.

Luckily my shoes were his size. Just simple shoes with really good insoles for comfort. Not fancy by any means. But I had another pair in my car. Now we both had shoes. He didn't know a thing about The Pongo Fund. That was ok. He just knew he had found a port in a storm.

So many times we are blessed with the opportunity to help. All of us are. You help. We help. Together we help.

And then just yesterday there was the United States veteran a few hours outside of Portland, Oregon, in desperate need of food for his two dogs. He said “I am in a power wheel chair and we have no car to get to Portland...we are not going to make it…” Imagine that. Such honest words shared with a total stranger.

The fear was real. The words hit hard. Just a few hours later they had their food.

New York. Chicago. Seattle. Portland and more. Just a few of the many.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. 

(Photo is stock image and does not depict anyone in this story -- Photo credit: Barbara Bates, Montgomery County Animal Shelter) 

#pongo #thepongofund #rescue #petfood #helpers

When the stomach hurts so much that a bowl of hope is more important than a bowl of food. What then? When the hunger is greater than what a bag of kibble can fix. How do we help then? Because going to the store and buying a bag of hope just isn’t an easy thing to do.

Caring and nurturing and loving and doing every single thing possible and still it’s not enough. Because sometimes there just isn’t an easy answer. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

When she said she needed food, that sentence alone, was a good thing. Because The Pongo Fund has food. But the other words were less good. Because those words shared both a broken heart and a broken spirit.

And those words alone, singularly and together, told us this is a desperate situation that kibble alone may not fix. Another strong and fierce senior that has outlived her family and now she is all that’s left of a once full family tree.

And that’s what hurt so bad. Because this Mom who had outlived her own two-legged children was still Mom to her four-legged ones. And she was willing to do whatever she could to help them.

The food she requested was a Hail Mary. Because her cat had stopped eating a few days ago. And more food wasn’t necessarily the answer. Because this kitty friend had received the best veterinary care possible, and there may be something more involved.

But someone had said something to someone and then to someone else and then to her and there she was, hopeful that we had the magic bag of food that would be just the thing to get her cat eating again. Giving her hope that we had something that no one else had.

Yet of course she knew that was likely not going to be the case. But hope was still there. And so were we.

We offered everything we could. Even things we weren’t sure we could do. Because we knew we’d find a way.

And that’s the honor of being part of our Emergency Kibble Response Team. Because we’re still going to do what we can when we can. Just because we can’t buy a bag of hope doesn’t mean we can’t deliver it. Even if we have to make our own. Even if it may not be enough.

And that’s how we ended up in the doorway of a hurting yet proud octogenarian and presented her with a smorgasbord of cat food that numbered more than 20 different samples. Wet food and dry food and homemade food and baby food and more. Fresh blankets and bedding too. And fluffers and feathers and catnip thingys too. And a quaint old book filled with cat stories that we knew they could read together.

With a promise that we’d be back again and again and again to bring more of whatever is needed as long as it’s needed. Because that’s what we do when we deliver hope. We don’t stop.

Bringing hope. And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

Peanut got hit by a car. And this little Dachshund quickly lost most use of his rear legs. His Mom is homeless and penniless, currently sleeping on the couches of whatever friends have room for her.

Despite her own hardship she managed to get Peanut to a vet to be stabilized. But additional care and xrays were needed and they cost money that she did not have. She said she tried all the usual places for help but with no success. Then she found The Pongo Fund. We are a Pet Food Bank, but we always strive to go above and beyond to provide whatever help we can. Because sometimes being a Pet Food Bank just isn’t enough.

Thankfully donors to our Emergency Veterinary Care Fund are here to make this help possible. And after learning more about Peanut, we knew we needed to help him too. Because he needs us, as does his Mom.

Further examination and xrays found nothing needing surgery. With medication and rest this little guy should be feeling better soon. Our physical therapist is standing by ready to lead Peanut through hydrotherapy to continue his recovery. We’re not sure how much this will cost, and we invite you to help if you can.

Every situation like this hurts. Even when we can help, they still hurt. This is the email we received. Read it and you’ll understand.

“Peanut is my life and is what keeps me going everyday, I love him beyond anything and am reaching out to anyone I can to see if they can help him get at least an X-ray to see what's going on with him. I was told about your foundation and that you may possibly be able to help in some way. I have been praying for him and praying that someone can help my baby, my son. Please, if at all possible, I am begging for help for Peanut. I don't know what I will do if God takes him, I just don't know what to do.”

For Peanut and the Mom who loves him.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. For Peanut.


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.

Earl, Pearl and Kirby
Earl, Pearl and Kirby

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.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

Earl, Pearl and Kirby
Earl, Pearl and Kirby

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Organization Information

The Pongo Fund

Location: Portland, Oregon - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Larry Chusid
Portland, OR United States
$19,275 raised of $25,000 goal
411 donations
$5,725 to go
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