Charity provides food for pets of city’s impoverished

PET FOOD PROVIDEDART

Kim and Mike Pempin, founders of Pet Food Pantry OKC, have been helping homeless, disabled and elderly keep their pets fed since 2010.

Kim Pempin’s lifelong passion for all creatures four-legged started with her best friend, the family’s dog, an American Eskimo named Honey.

She later became an animal rescuer, but it wasn’t until 2010, when she was feeding a stray dog, that she suddenly felt a calling for something else.

“It felt like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘You can do more than this,’” Pempin said. “I knew there were hungry animals out there, but I never dreamed how much of a need there really is.”

Today, Pempin’s dream of providing pet food to impoverished or disabled residents has blossomed into a growing nonprofit volunteer organization known as the Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma City.

Janet Chadwick loads a car full of supplies to be delivered to animals in need. (Lauren Hamilton)

Janet Chadwick loads a car full of supplies to be delivered to animals in need. (Lauren Hamilton)

The charity now has a five-member board of directors and more than 20 volunteer drivers and delivers more than 4,000 pounds of pet food monthly to 200 qualifying seniors, veterans and homeless in the greater Oklahoma City area. These efforts help feed around 500 pets per month.

“Our primary goal is to help extremely low-income seniors because their pets are often the only lifeline they have,” she said. “I have watched seniors give their pets their own food and go without medicine that they need. We believe no one should go hungry, and (we) tell them to keep their own food, buy their medicine and we’ll feed your pet.”

Along with her husband, Mike, Pempin runs the program that helps about 100 people a month. They also help veterans through the homeless and senior programs, and they are able to purchase three-month supplies of flea and tick medicine, thanks to a $5,000 grant from AT&T.

Pempin said she first got involved with the local homeless population after passing a man with a Jack Russell terrier who was living on the streets in downtown Oklahoma City. She stopped and asked if she could pet his dog. “When it comes to animals, I have no filter,” she said. “He said his name was Robert, and he was very nice. I always call female dogs Baby Girl, and he asked how I knew her name because that’s what he’d named her. We’ve been friends ever since.”

Mindy Duke seperates dog food into smaller bags at the Pet Food Pantry in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Lauren Hamilton)

Mindy Duke seperates dog food into smaller bags at the Pet Food Pantry in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Lauren Hamilton)

The Pet Food Pantry of OKC has very little overhead, and donations go straight to the people and pets that need help. With the exception of one part- time employee, a warehouse manager, dedicated volunteers help raise money and supplies for the nonprofit.

Most of the staff works more than 40 hours a week, Pempin said.

The Pet Food Pantry of OKC also stipulates that pet owners get their pets spayed or neutered if they are to continue to get services. Volunteers also donate spaying and neutering services. When possible, the pantry provides leashes, collars and other pet items that are donated, often by people whose pets have passed away.

Pempin said she’s grateful to all the donors, volunteers and nonprofit groups that do pet food drives for the pantry.

“We can’t do this without the community’s support,” she said. “We’ve been able to do this because we have a wonderful community that is so giving.”

All donations to the Pet Food Pantry of OKC are tax deductible. To schedule a donation pickup, visit the pantry’s website at petfoodpantryokc.org for a list of donation locations in the greater Oklahoma City area. To make a monetary donation, call 664-2858 or email them at info@ petfoodpantryokc.org.

Print: Animal Crackers

Kevan Goff-Parker

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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