It’s a weekend that’s going to the dogs, which is a good thing if you love your four-legged best friend. The Pet Project, a year-old organization that helps people in financial difficulty keep their pets, is holding three events on July 31 through August 2, to help raise money and collect bags of dog food and other basic pet supplies. The dog food collected by The Pet Project will be distributed through 11 food shelves around the Twin Cities metro area.
“I got started doing this about a year ago after hearing sad stories about people having to give up their pets because they have lost everything. I started to get pet food donations last year and then started to get money,” said Kim Carrier, the founder of The Pet Project. [For more on The Pet Project, see A food shelf for pets.]
The organization, run out of Carrier’s South Minneapolis home, which she shares with Stella, a collie mix and Rosie, a mostly black lab, grew quickly. She attracted a number of corporate sponsors, veterinarians and other supporters and put together a website to give those who needed help a way to find it.
A December fundraised netted The Pet Project 10,000 lbs. of pet food, but Carrier said that the need now is even greater. “Everyone is struggling. It’s been a horrible year for people. When they have to choose between feeding kid or pet, the kid wins, but everyone loses when they have to give up their beloved pet.”
The fundraising events begin Friday evening in Northeast Minneapolis with a dog-friendly 5:00 pm picnic in Chute Square followed at 6:15 pm by the annual running (OK, walking) of the dogs as the Northeast Dog Parade passes through the NE business district. The parade ends at the Red Stag Supper Club.
For a donation, with all proceeds going to the Pet Project, dog owners can have a photo taken by renowned dog portrait photographer, Sara Ernhart of Sarabeth Photography, as well as seeing an exhibit of her photos on display at Bone Adventure across the street. Dogs and their owners from all over the area are welcome to the event and up to 500 dogs are expected.
Ernhart’s artful dog photos will also be on display during Beats and Barks, a benefit concert for The Pet Project, Saturday from 7:00 pm until 10:30 pm, at The Beat Coffeehouse, 1414 W. 28th St. near Uptown in Minneapolis. The concert is part of the restaurant’s commitment to the Uptown/EatStreet area, where a large number of people own dogs. “We try to do benefits that are important to the people in the community around the coffee shop,” said owner Joel Gross. “Any time we can be a part of that, we’ll jump on.”
The concert is sponsored by Radio K and will include live music by Castle Danger, Walker Fields, Goodday, Montag, the Goondas. The $7 entry price will be reduced to $5 for anyone bringing a five pound (or larger) bag of pet food.
Sunday, the dog events move to St. Paul. The Grand Avenue Business Association will be holding special sidewalk sales and other dog-related events during Paws On Grand, with many businesses donating part of their proceeds to The Pet Project. Some businesses will welcome dogs inside and will give free dog treats and water to sun-weary canines. Events include a first aid presentation at 1:00 pm, followed by a demonstration by Marilyn Tokach, who runs an animal communication clinic at 2:00 pm, and a explanation of clicker training at 3:00 pm.
Solid Gold pet food will be there and will match donations when patrons purchase and donate of bags of their dog food. Rescue groups will also be on hand with pets ready for adoption.
While finding pet food for local food shelves to distribute is The Pet Projects’s major focus, Carrier has already expanded the mission to include money for veterinarian visits. “We can’t afford emergency visits, but we can help with vaccinations when we have extra funds. We have an upcoming low cost vaccination clinic on August 15,” she said.
“We’ll have volunteer vets and the humane society is donating the vaccine. There’s a $20 requested donation but if someone comes in and can’t afford that, we’ll do it anyway,” said Carrier. The clinic runs from noon until 4:00 pm at the Hallie Q. Brown Center Community Center in St. Paul.
Carrier said she hopes that this weekend will help get more pet food to needy people and their pets. “We don’t even come close to meeting the demand right now,” she said. “One of the food shelves in Hopkins told me that they serve a family every ten minutes and that 40 to 50 percent of those families ask for pet food.” But, she said, she’s going to keep working to keep pets together with their families. Earlier this year, she quit one of her two day jobs to give more time to The Pet Project. ” I just don’t like hearing about people having to give up their pet because life has dealt them a bad hand.”