Jamie Francis/The OregonianLarry Chusid says he’ll duke out eight accoutrements of pet aliment a ages from his new pet aliment bank, The Pongo Fund — called for his backward dog, Pongo.
The Pongo Fund Pet Aliment Bank, a huge accomplishment to advice not aloof pets but additionally families in charge that opens beyond from the Oregon Convention Centermost on Sunday, has been in the authoritative for decades.
It started with two dogs angry to a arcade barrow city some 30 years ago. Chusid, afresh a apprentice at Portland Accompaniment University, capital to advice the assembly of a abandoned man he consistently saw abreast campus and bought them a bag of dog food.
This action was not amazing for Chusid. For years, he fabricated affliction bales of aliment and sundries and handed them out to those after shelter, allowance about he could.
Meanwhile, he ran several acknowledged businesses and had dogs of his own. The last, Pongo, died in October 2007.
Later that month, Chusid got the aboriginal arresting to focus his accommodating efforts. He noticed two dogs at a abandoned bivouac and chock-full to ask their owners if they’d be OK for Thanksgiving. The bodies said they’d be fine, but none of the aliment pantries had pet food. Could Chusid get them aliment for the pups?
That’s how the Pongo Fund started. Soon Chusid was handing out pet aliment to abandoned owners all over town. Back that Thanksgiving two years ago, he estimates, he’s accustomed out added than 100,000 pet meals. That additionally helps the people, who would contrarily augment their own armament to the pets.
This year, Chusid got the abutting arresting to move forward. He was accepting pet aliment out of his car on a freezing day in January back a woman stopped.
“What are you doing?” she inquired.
“I’m agriculture abandoned pets,” Chusid replied.
“No, you’re not.”
“Really? What am I accomplishing then?”
“You’re agriculture the body of a family,” the woman replied.
She was a amusing artisan on her way to analysis on a ancestors in acute straits. About a ages earlier, the parents had told their accouchement that there aloof wasn’t abundant money to augment everyone, that they didn’t appetite the dog to go athirst and that it would go to alive with a ancestors who could allow to augment it.
Now the woman was activity to see the ancestors because the accouchement had become blue — and not aloof because their dog, and the affecting abutment it provided, was gone. The accouchement anticipation they’d be abutting in band to go alive about abroad if money was bound again.
Chusid accomplished there was a accomplished citizenry on the border of homelessness that had never had to anguish about ache before.
“The bodies on the street, they apperceive breadth they can get food,” he says. “It’s the bodies indoors, adversity silently, that don’t apperceive breadth to go.”
In April, Chusid went to a pet-product barter appearance and happened to accommodated the owners of Canidae Pet Foods, the California aggregation that had accurate the Pongo Fund from the start. He told them he had an abstraction for a pet aliment coffer in Portland for bodies disturbing to pay their bills who ability accord up their pets otherwise.
The Canidae bodies abashed Chusid by alms $125,000 account of aliment on the spot. He had to acquaint them he wasn’t accessible yet.
He now bare a space, volunteers, grants and fundraisers. He bare to anatomy a nonprofit organization. Hoping for tips on how to acquisition chargeless acknowledged casework for accomplishing so, Chusid went to see Alan Jensen, a activating tax advocate and accomplice at the law close Holland & Knight with abysmal access to Portland’s beastly community.
They talked and it angry out that Jensen acclimated to see, out of his old appointment window, the aforementioned abandoned man for whom Chusid had bought a bag of dog aliment 30 years earlier. Jensen decidedly remembered the man agriculture a dog allotment of a sandwich, which the dog discharge out.
This encapsulated the lose-lose bearings an accretion cardinal of bodies are in: because of abridgement of pet food, the buyer ends up with beneath to eat and the dog still doesn’t get appropriately fed.
Chusid concluded up accepting a nationally acclaimed advocate to assignment for him for free. Afresh the Portland Development Commission provided space, and the Portland-based Hedinger Ancestors Foundation got on board.
Now pallets aloft pallets of pet aliment are sitting in a barn on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard, accessible for the doors to open. There are three semitrailers’ account of abrade and cans — added pet aliment than you’ve anytime seen.
The appeal to accommodated that accumulation is there. The two added pet aliment banks in the Portland breadth — both at atomic 15 afar from city — accept accustomed out accretion amounts of aliment back they opened. In Sherwood, the Cat Adoption Team’s aliment bank, the beyond and earlier of the two, gave out 2,500 pounds of cat aliment aloof in the accomplished month. And bodies are advancing from as far as Vancouver and Troutdale.
Local agencies are affable the new resource. 211info, a bounded alarm centermost that provides advice about emergency food, apartment and bloom casework to anyone who needs it, will now point audience with pets to the Pongo Fund.
“I was absolutely captivated to apprehend about Larry’s project,” says Susan Salisbury, a ability specialist with 211info. “We’ve been attractive for a account like this for some time.”
Even the accompaniment will accelerate bodies to the Pongo Fund. Chusid told a bounded caseworker for the Oregon Administration of Human Casework about his affairs a while ago. The caseworker asked her bang-up if she could acquaint her audience about the pet aliment bank. The acknowledgment was yes.
“When I heard about this I thought, ‘What a abundant idea,’ ” says Gene Evans, a administration spokesman. “When bodies apprehend aliment stamps don’t awning pet food, they ask what they’re declared to do. Now caseworkers can point out this resource.”
Chusid is accessible for them now. He is planning on handing out eight accoutrements of aliment a month. That’s 16,000 pounds — added than a thousand ample accoutrements of food. While no one compiles civic statistics for this affectionate of thing, according to media letters from added cities, these numbers would accomplish the Pongo Fund the better pet aliment coffer in the country.
Not that that matters.
“The numbers aren’t the important thing,” Chusid says in his atoning manner. He’s a little afflictive actuality in the spotlight.
“For years alone the abandoned knew about me. Now I’m animated a ablaze on this to say we all could help.”
— Jacques Von Lunen