Begun with the meeting of three individuals at a corner table at Barnes and Noble in 2011, the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County has undergone many changes and much growth since that late summers evening. Those three individuals: Mel Sanders, Dr. Bryan Langlois, and Krystle Black, along with countless other volunteers and staff have all helped the Pet Pantry become THE ORGANIZATION in Lancaster County that is there day in and day out to "Meet the Need" of animals and their loving families.
The Pantry was formed after all three of the individuals above realized that a need was not being met in Lancaster County. Many people were struggling. The economic downturn had left many making the heartbreaking decision to surrender their beloved pet solely because they lacked the funds to provide food for them. Others were choosing between feeding themselves or feeding their pets. Still others were selling off all their possessions to be able to provide their pets with food. There had to be a way to help these people and prevent these animals from leaving their loving families and ending up in the shelter system. Thus...the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County was born!
Starting out small, well...very small (Mel's living room to be exact), the Pantry went to work collecting pet food donations from the public and portioning out that food to people in need. We started by feeding the pets of just 12 families. Soon, as word about our program spread, we quickly were overwhelmed with the need and had to move to a bigger location to accommodate the food donations and portioning out that was needed. So it was on to Mel's garage.
Using both Mel's garage and a few storage units at Moove in Storage on Centerville Road, we were able to slowly increase the number of families we were helping. Holding monthly food handouts in the Moove in Storage parking lot we quickly jumped from helping 50, then 100, then 150 families in need get food for their pets. Eventually we were able to move our entire food storage and sorting operation to Moove in Storage (much to the delight of Mel's husband who got his garage back).
The need kept growing though, and after a while it was obvious we would need even more. Through working with some people at That Fish Place/That Pet Place we were able to get some space in their warehouse to both store food and distribute it from. It was at this point in time (around 2013) that we realized there was a "need" for other services in the community as well. One of those being health care for these families pets.
Dr. Langlois had worked at the Humane League of Lancaster County for the previous 8 years before leaving to devote all his time to the Pantry. His expertise in setting up medical programs for pets in need allowed the Pantry to set up its Veterinary Program that started to provide lower cost spay/neuter services to the community, feral cat Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) services to the County, and give more in depth, life saving care to pets whose owners just could not afford regular veterinary prices. Services were first done in a converted office in the warehouse, but soon it was evident to really be able to help, a larger more visible location was needed.
In the May of 2014 the Pet Pantry moved yet again to its current location on Millersville Road in Lancaster. There we finally had the full space needed to really expand our programs and bring the final piece of the "puzzle of need" together, rescue.
We came to realize that while we were doing all we could to work to keep animals where they belonged, in their loving homes, there were some animals out there that just needed a second chance at a great forever home. The reasons for animals needing to be surrendered varied, and there was a need for a place for these animals to go. Focusing mostly on cats as that was were the greatest need was, the Pantry formed it's own small rescue that is run out of the Millersville Road location and had a mobile adoption room at That Fish Place/That Pet Place on Centerville Road. It was also around this time that we realized there was a need for basic veterinary care for animals that were being cared for by other rescues. These rescues were smaller in scale, just like the Pantry, and could not afford the regular veterinary costs to spay/neuter and treat some of the medical problems that they encountered in their dogs. Often taking on some of the more severe medical type cases, these rescues needed someplace to have these animals cared for. Again, the Pantry stepped up and created our "Rescue Wednesday" programs where local rescues could bring their animals to us for spay/neuter surgeries as well as other needs. This allowed these rescues to help more animals during the year. The Pantry is proud to have built these relationships with the rescues and to date work with over 10 local rescues throughout the year.
We actually began to work with one rescue so well that in January of 2017 the Pet Pantry merged with Lost Paws of Lancaster. This merger allowed us to have an even greater reach of adoption locations and provide more second chances to those animals in need. Lost Paws was looking for someone to takeover their operations, and it was only after many conversations and a long vetting process that they felt comfortable enough allowing us to be the one to do it. We truly appreciate the trust they have put in our operation.
That brings us to today. Over just 8 short years the Pet Pantry has been able to grow into an organization that is there to "Meet the Need" of animals and their families right here in Lancaster County. We are very proud to say that we have our focus on only Lancaster County. That is were the need is, and we will not look to expand our reach to other areas until we can be sure we have met the need in our own Backyard. Averaging over 400 adoptions a year, 1,000 feral cat TNR surgeries a year, 70,000+ pounds of dry dog/cat food given out a year, 150+ families helped a year, over $250,000 in veterinary care a year to those in need, and 50+ life saving veterinary procedures a year for animals with no where else to turn to for help, the Pet Pantry truly has become the animal welfare organization in Lancaster County that is there to "Meet the Need" of animals and their families right here in Lancaster County!!
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit about us and where we came from. We hope you will see that the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County has existed and will continue to exist because of the need that has to be met. It is only with YOUR help that we can continue to meet this need. We hope you will consider supporting us in the future as we work to fulfill this mission, and if you already are a dedicated supporter of the Pantry THANK YOU!!!