Illinois Food Pantry for Pets a Big Hit in Tough Times

By isak, May 14, 2009

by John Roszkowski
jroszkowski [at] pioneerlocal [dot] com

Cathie Sabin has heard sad stories about pet owners who have lost their jobs or homes and had to give up their dogs or cats because they couldn’t afford to buy pet food.

Sabin, owner of B.C. Dog Training Club in Mundelein [Illinois], decided to do something to help pet owners who are struggling because of the economy. In January, she started the Pooch Pantry, a food pantry which provides free pet food for families who are in financial distress and can’t afford to buy food for their pets.

“In December, a gentleman from Vernon Hills came in here looking for food for his golden retrievers. He was turned down by many organizations and shelters. Everybody was turning him down so I gave him a bag of dog food and decided something needed to be done,” said Sabin.

“I started a food pantry for pets,” she said.

Sabin established a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation known as B.A.R.K. (Better Awareness for Rescue K-9’s, Inc. — to accept donations of pet food and supplies and operates the Pooch Pantry out of B.C. Dog Training facility in Mundelein. Diane Reuskens, manager of B.C. Dog Training Club, said the Pooch Pantry is open two days a week — on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. She estimates it is currently serving between 50 to 60 families a week who otherwise would not be able to afford food for their pets.

“The food is going fast so we’re going to be in need of more donations,” she said. “This is to prevent people from having to give up their animals.”

Sabin said many of the people who are coming to the Pooch Pantry have lost their jobs or their homes due to foreclosure, some are on welfare, and others are senior citizens living on fixed incomes.

“We had one woman come in who just got laid off after 37 years at the same company. It’s heart-wrenching,” she said.

Nancy Conlon of Round Lake said she lost her job a couple weeks ago. She visited the Pooch Pantry to get food for her two cats.

“Times are hard. Times are very hard,” she said.

The pantry relies on donations and Sabin said the generosity of the public have been amazing.

“Up until about two weeks ago, all of our donations were from private individuals. Everybody’s been great. Some people bring in a bag, some people bring in 20 bags. Whatever they can afford is what they bring in,” she said.

Sabin said about two weeks ago, the pantry received its first large business donations from and the WellPet Foundation.

“Between the two of them, we got 10,000 pounds of food,” she said. “That was two weeks ago, and we’ve already gone through quite a bit of it.”

Sabin said the pantry accepts dog and cat food and litter and other pet supplies.

“We’re very, very low on cat food and litter right now. We’re set right now on dog food, but that won’t last long,” she said.

The Pooch Pantry is open for food pickup on Wednesdays, from 1 to 4 p.m., and on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to noon. It is located at 920 Turret Court in Mundelein and can be reached at (847) 566-1960.

Donations can be dropped off Monday-Friday, from 12:30-6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. All donations are tax deductible.

reprinted from Mundelein Review


  1. danielle maxwell says:

    hello i was wondering if u new were i could get donations. i am a regestered feral cat caretaker of 15 fixed cats i have 8 of my own house cats and 7 fosters. the winter months are tough for me. if there are any cat food/litter donations please contact me by email or phone 630-550-7112 thak u so much

  2. Olivia - pet supplies says:

    This is wonderful, and much needed idea. I believe that the local food bank in my area accepts donations of pet food and other pet-related items.

    This post made me wonder about two things: what do these people do if their pet requires medical treatment? I wonder if there are any veterinarians that donate their time or provide free clinics for people who can’t afford to pay.

    The other thing I wondered about were the homeless people that I’ve seen at city intersections, with a dog, asking for donations for food. I get a bittersweet feeling, know that the person is in dire straits, but at least, has the companionship of a loving dog.

    From what I’ve seen (and done) the dogs on these street corners are usually irresistible.

    Thank you for the inspirational post.

    • isak says:

      Pet food pantries are starting to crop up across the US and even in some foreign countries. Even Meals-On-Wheels are adding pet food to their deliveries.

      Did you see this link for info on help with medical assistance? It is available if you look for it. The Humane Society has a grant program where vets and shelters can apply for a grant to provide care for a specific animal. Great program. Applications are on hold until July because they have used up all available monies right now.

      I agree about the homeless. I am happy they have a companion to look after them. Good for security, too, I imagine.

What do you think?

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