‘I’m just a person on a crazy mission,’ says the only pet food bank
Chloe Griffin runs a pet food bank called The Pet Pantry from her home in Putāruru.
When Chloe Griffin discovered that a dog across the street was not being fed or cared for, she wondered how many other dogs were in need.
This sparked the idea for The Pet Food Pantry, but little did she know she would open Pandora’s box and end up feeding dozens of dogs every week.
Griffin now spends his free time collecting and distributing packets of pet food to people in the Bay of Plenty who needed help – all from his home in Putāruru.
She was walking her own dog in the streets near her former home in Tauranga’s Gate Pā when she noticed a dog across the road that had nothing.
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He lived in grass up to his knees and had no water bowl, litter in his kennel, or toys.
“It was 2018, and I was just like, how is this acceptable?” Griffin said.
She asked the woman who lived next door to the dog, who said she had been feeding it for eight years.
Griffin said she called various animal rescue services to get someone to help, before deciding it was easier to just help feed him.
“The guy was watching me throw frozen meat and water over the fence. He just used to laugh.
“I was thinking, if there was this one, how many are there?”
After launching The Pet Pantry in 2019, it turns out there are a lot of them.
One week – between Saturday and Tuesday – she donated 1,000 kg of pet food to the community.
She makes a big food drop about twice a month – to people who have asked for help – but she also throws stuff over people’s fences, ships packages across the country while others come looking for food.
“We just find a way,” Griffin said.
In a slow week she helps 20-30 people, other weeks it can be over 50 – and people were of all ages and backgrounds.
She didn’t ask people to get a referral or meet criteria like the Human Food Bank, but expected honesty.
“I need to know why,” she said.
Griffin had “definitely” noticed an increase in the number of people seeking help to feed their animals since the cost of living crisis – but said it had started to level off.
This year, she had started receiving messages from people all over the country.
She said she was used to receiving strange messages, but last month she sent 15 parcels in the post – the furthest being destined for Invercargill.
Griffin said it was so bad people were wondering, should I feed the kids or the dog? because they couldn’t do both.
But adoptive parents are rare, a crucial stepping stone to finding a forever home.
“Times are very tough. Many have lost their jobs and have only one income.
“There are certainly a lot of sad stories.”
She receives no government funding, works full time and volunteers all her time.
She relies on donations from two local pet food companies and a small pageand spent his evenings writing emails to get more.
“As quickly as it comes, it goes out.
“I’m just one person on a crazy mission,” Griffin said. “Honestly, I need about ten of me.”
She recently moved to Putāruru but still provided pet food to the residents of the Bay of Plenty because she commuted to work daily.
“I didn’t even start here [Waikato] Again. Tauranga keeps me busy.
Waikato District Council had seen 13 dogs with a body score of ⅕ in the past three months – the thinnest a dog could be before dying.
An animal control officer says dogs near death in ‘heartbreaking’ situations appear to be victims of the cost of living crisis.
The SPCA also said a large number of malnourished dogs were showing up at the doors of centers nationwide.