Kibble Kitchen seeks volunteers, donations Local pet pantry strives to keep pets out of shelters

Written by Carl Kurek. Posted in Featured, Pets

Published on August 06, 2014 with No Comments

Third annual Paws for Homeless Animals Day Saturday, Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Festival Park, 111 E. Ridge Road, Hobart

According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal shelters across the country take in approximately 6-8 million dogs and cats every year–nearly half of whom never get the chance to walk back out through the shelter doors.

After spending more than 25 years working in pet stores, animal shelters and with various animal rescue groups, Michelle Duca of Portage became all too familiar with this problem and was inspired to do something about it. So in 2011, she established the Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry, an organization that offers assistance to struggling pet owners in an effort to lower the number of pets surrendered to animal shelters in Northwest Indiana.

In addition to supplying pet food and supplies to owners in need, the Kibble Kitchen also helps cover the cost of vetting, pet medications and spay and neuter services for their clients.

Duca believes it is unacceptable to have owners being forced to make the difficult decision to surrender their companion to an uncertain fate just because they have fallen on hard times.

“I look forward to a time when people don’t have to ever consider making the choice between keeping a pet and keeping a home,” she said. “Maybe it’s too much to hope for in my lifetime, but I’d certainly like to move toward that outcome.”

The Kibble Kitchen also helps animal rescue groups and shelters throughout Northwest Indiana as well. Just last month, Duca secured a donation of 11 pallets of dog food from a manufacturer and provided thousands of pounds of food to several area organizations including the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana in Miller, the Humane Society of Hobart and Sunshine Paws rescue in Crown Point.

While the food was donated, Duca and her team had to rent a truck to transport that food from the donor as well as coordinate the delivery of food to each of the organizations.

For the first three years, the Kibble Kitchen was headquartered in a donated office space in the Portage Commons retail strip off U.S. 6 and served clients throughout Porter County.

Just this past April, the pantry was forced to look for a new location and settled on a storefront on Center Street in downtown Hobart. This came as the Kibble Kitchen was expanding its services to include Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart residents with a 46342 zip code.

The storefront is now open Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as the third Saturday of every month for distribution. The store is filled with various pet-themed items such as clothing, magnets, jewelry, pet supplies and home decor, all centered around the family pet.

“Since the move from our donated location in Portage to our rented office and storage space in Hobart, we have met many new faces, and the city of Hobart has been more receptive to the organization than the previous three years we spent in Portage,” Duca said.

But with the expansion into Lake County and the addition of a monthly rent for the new location, the need for more monetary donations is more important than ever for the Kibble Kitchen.

“With the support of several large pet food manufactures and pet stores, securing actual pet food donations have been solid for us since the beginning,” Duca said. “Our greatest need has been securing monetary donations to assist those in need with spay and neuter surgeries, overhead from our building and storage.”

The Kibble Kitchen team organizes several fundraising events every year, including the annual Paws for Homeless Animals Day coming up on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Festival Park near Lake George in Hobart.

More than 70 vendors have been confirmed. The event will feature entertainment by Whiskey and Harmony, a pet blessing ceremony by Father Andrew Corona and professional pet photos by Nina G. Photography. There will also be adoptable dogs, cats and other small animals as well as a bounce house, face painting and various children’s activities.

Duca said this year’s event will start off at 10:30 a.m. with their first ever Fun Walk along Lake George that leads back to the park where the vendors will be located. A full list of vendors as well as other event information can be found by visiting www.facebook.com/kibblekitchen.

The pantry is currently in need of monetary donations as well as additional volunteers in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. For more information, email kibblekitchenvolunteers@hotmail.com or visit www.thekibblekitchen.com.

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