DENVER — The Colorado Pet Pantry is battling a dog food shortage amid unprecedented demand for help.
Onalee Napp said it would be tough to get by if it wasn't for food drives like Tuesday’s drive-in Denver's Swansea neighborhood. She comes all the way from Keenesburg to pick up dog food for her 4-year old dog, Gunner, who recently had a cancerous tumor removed.
"These resources help when you have a big, massive bill you had to pay,” said Napp.
Colorado Pet Pantry temporarily feeds pets when families are financially struggling in order to keep the animals at home and out of shelters, according to the nonprofit's website. But adult dry dog food is becoming harder to find, according to Executive Director Eileen Lambert.
“Pet food banks are 50 percent busier than they were a year ago, but we aren't bringing in 50 percent more dry dog food,” said Lambert.
She said the Colorado Pet Pantry is at risk of not having enough dry adult dog food come November, just before the holidays.
"The issue is that so much less dog food was made during [the COVID-19 pandemic] due to supply chain issues that there isn't as much now to donate to us,” said Lambert.
Lambert said pet food brands or distributors typically donate dog food that's expired or near its expiration since it can't be sold in stores. However, those donations have diminished, which could affect those who rely on food drives to feed their pets.
"If we think about a shortage of pet food for pet pantry clients, that could mean more families are having to break that bond and surrender their pets because they can't provide what their pet needs. So for us, that's a scary thing to contemplate,” said Katie Parker, vice president of sheltering for the Dumb Friends League.
Parker said the Dumb Friends League has been close to or at capacity for the past two years. Lambert is doing what she can to keep that capacity as low as possible.
"We may just have to change what we give people for awhile. We do have some canned dog food instead of adult kibble,” said Lambert. “We may have to reduce how often we give out food.”
"We would have to cut back and buy sub par food for her, and that makes it difficult,” said Stephanie Pulido, who attended Tuesday's drive-in giveaway.
"I would have to boil some chicken for my dogs,” said Napp. “If we didn't have these resources, a lot of dogs would be homeless.”
The Colorado Pet Pantry is always looking for donations, whether they be monetary or pet food. To help the Colorado Pet Pantry, click here.