LARAMIE — Angel seemed excited as she sniffed at the now-familiar converted kitchen hutch filled with pet food, treat, toys and other items.
The 3-year-old pit bull is the companion of Micaela Myers and her family, a rescue adoption that is giving Angel’s life a much happier ending that her beginning. She was found in another state abandoned with a missing ear, her throat cut and left for dead.
Now Angel accompanies Myers to the Laramie Animal Welfare Society’s office on South Second Street. That’s where her latest effort to help animals has been well-received by Laramie pet owners.
The city’s first Free Little Pet Pantry.
Painted baby blue and sporting a whimsical sign painted by Pop Up Paint Party, the hutch is a cheerful burst of color outside the LAW storefront. Like Free Little Pantries and Free Little Libraries that have popped up around town the last few years, the Pet Pantry offers help and relief for families and their companion animals.
“Years ago, I asked the food pantry if their clients needed pet food, and they said yes, but that’s not our focus,” Myers said about when she first began thinking about creating the pet-focused pantry. “I also knew that Project SAFE also needed pet supplies because the women there at the shelter can bring their pets with them.
“So, I knew there was a need.”
The bottom line, though, is Myers’ love for animals and her desire to help pets and families in distress.
“I just love animals and I thought this would be a fun thing to do,” she said. “I don’t want people to have to give up their animals just because they’re poor or having a rough patch financially.”
When considering where to locate the Free Little Pet Pantry, LAWS seemed the logical choice, Myers said.
In fact, something like the Pet Pantry had been on the wish list for the Laramie Animal Welfare Society for awhile, said Kathryn Eastman Curry, an animal lover and Laramie High School sophomore who works for the organization.
“I think it’s always been something we’ve wanted to do, but getting people to step up and do it hasn’t happened in the past,” Eastman Curry said. “It takes someone willing to see a need and step in and do it, and it was really wonderful (Myers) did and we are really happy to support that.”
Because the pantry is located outside LAWS, the nonprofit organization is in a good position to help monitor the hutch and also act as a pass-through for donations.
Goal is to be self-sustaining
The ultimate goal for the Pet Pantry is for it to sustain itself with community donations and involvement, Myers said.
“We want the people who take it to actually be the people who need it and then, yes, please, please, please come and drop off,” she said. “And not just food. You see we also have bowls and toys and litter boxes and other things.”
The response for the first two weeks the Pet Pantry has been in operation has been better than expected, Myers said.
“Oh, my gosh. There’s been a lot of response,” she said. “Originally, I thought I’d come down once or twice a week. But I’ve had to check on it daily. People are coming every day and taking stuff. People have been really excited and thankful and positive.”
They’ve also been donating some high-quality food, sometimes in large quantities, she said.
“I’ve been taking the big bags and breaking them down into smaller bags,” Myers said. “My car has become somewhat of a mobile restocking station.”
The only rule when accessing the Free Little Pet Pantry, whether taking or dropping off, is to make sure it’s closed and latched up tight. That’s because it didn’t take long for area raccoons to discover the hutch stuffed with pet food. Unless secured tight, they’ll get in.
Inside LAWS, Eastman Curry said she hears some good feedback from local pet owners about the pantry.
“I see people coming in and grabbing little things from it and some people grabbing more,” she said. “People are really finding it to be a lifeline in the community. It helps fill the gaps from other (organizations) out there and especially can get people and their pets through the weekends.”