Colorado Pet Pantry

Nonprofit distributes dog, cat food, supplies statewide

By Sharon Sullivan

Eileen Lambert was volunteering at the Dumb Friends League, a nonprofit animal shelter in Denver, when she realized that most people who relinquish pets do so because of inadequate housing, or they can’t afford the cost of food, veterinary care, and other pet resources. Lambert, owner of three dogs, decided she could tackle that problem.

She knew that pet owners often have pet-related items they don’t need — such as food or treats their animals didn’t like. Lambert decided she could start by gathering those items and distributing them to pet owners in need.

In 2013, she founded Colorado Pet Pantry (CPP), a nonprofit based on the Front Range that distributes dog and cat food and other pet supplies to people throughout the state. Colorado Pet Pantry works with human food banks statewide, including Food Bank of the Rockies on the Western Slope. It also works with low-income housing organizations, veterans’ groups, Meals on Wheels programs and other agencies that help people in need.

“We try and streamline the process,” Lambert says. “When people come to get (human) food, they get pet food, too. We know where the people who need us will be.”

While Lambert resides in Boulder, CPP’s base of operations is in Englewood where there’s a warehouse and distribution center. And it’s not just pet food; donated items also include collars, leashes, toys and beds. Colorado Pet Pantry employs 10 people, and has approximately 700 volunteers throughout the state.

“Everything is 100% donated — that’s what makes this organization successful and able to expand,” Lambert says. Donors include individual pet owners as well as dog food companies who donate semi-truck loads of food at a time.

“We’re lucky in Denver that we have four pet food distributors and at least four pet food makers,” she says. “There may be a nick in the bag, or it’s getting close to expiration date. It’s a win-win because it helps people and it doesn’t end up in the landfill.”

In January CCP assisted pet owners who lost their homes in the Marshall Fire. Lambert set up a station for two weeks at the Disaster Assistance Center in Lafayette where fire victims received help replacing items lost in the fire.

Lambert says she was surprised to find that dog beds were the most requested item. “We’d give out stacks of dog beds every day – we probably gave out 500.” Grabbing pet beds was not a high priority while fleeing the fire, she says. Colorado Pet Pantry also distributed pet food, treats, grooming supplies, toys, collars, leashes and cat litter at the Disaster Assistance Center.

Marshall fire victim Rubén Mercado thanked Colorado Pet Pantry for what he describes as the “support and kindness” they showed during a difficult time. “We’ve had to move three times since the fire so our little guy is happy to have a bed again,” he says.

Colorado Pet Pantry currently stocks the pet section of the Donation Center located at the old Nordstrom’s store at the Flat Irons Mall in Broomfield.

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