Katrina Dailey, transitions coordinator for the Margaret Murphy Center, came up with the idea for the pet pantry after hearing about a pet food charity program in Augusta. The Lewiston-Auburn center already had a relationship with the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society — some students liked to volunteer there — so she approached shelter leaders about a new partnership.

They agreed. 

“They were already providing food for animals,” Dailey said. “They were already giving their surplus food, leaving it in the (shelter) entryway, and they were seeing there was a need for that.” 

With help from the humane society, Dailey and her students established the Feeding Time Pet Pantry. During the week, students accepted donations from area residents and businesses. Every Tuesday between 9 and 11 a.m. they staffed a side room at the shelter, greeting customers, accepting applications, handing out food and filling plastic bags with the food to ensure everyone got the same amount. 

The pantry quickly proved popular.

“Usually when we get there, a little before 9, there’s usually a line,” teacher Megan Ferland said.

Today, the pantry serves over 200 families. For the general public, it offers a short-term program, which provides a punch card for three visits over three months. For veterans and people who are disabled or elderly, the pantry offers long-term help, providing food for the life of the pet.

The pantry operates solely on donations, mostly of dog and cat food. Students transfer the food to plastic bags so every customer gets the same amount: about four pounds of cat food or about 12 pounds of dog food, regardless of how many animals the customer has at home.

The pantry also hands out other pet items when it has them. Families often request cat litter, wood shavings and food for small animals.

“They tell me that just the little bit we help takes the pressure off so they’re able to maintain their pets at home,” Dailey said.  

Nine students are part of the program, with jobs that match their needs and talents. One student created the pantry’s motto — “Because people need pets and pets need food” — while others have designed the pantry’s T-shirts. Some deal with customers while others work behind the scenes, scooping dog food or bringing in donations.

Dailey believes the pet food pantry has helped her kids learn valuable skills.

The students say it’s helped them help others. 

“It’s to help the community,” Ouellette said.

Have an idea for Animal Tales? Contact Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or [email protected].


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