July 17, 2015
Author: Korin Metz
Since 2005, Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO) has helped thousands of Marion County residents care for their pets. FIDO’s main focus has always been providing care and better lives for dogs that are kept outdoors. On a strictly donation and volunteer basis, the organization provides spay/neuter services, dog kennels, vaccines, fencing repairs, microchipping, and other services to establish quality of life for the dogs and ease some of the burden on low-income owners.
Many residents may not be familiar with FIDO’s other service, a twice-monthly pet food pantry they implemented in 2009. President Jeni Christoffersen feels what sets FIDO’s efforts apart from pet food pantries in other cities, is the presence of set business hours. While many other pantries open at a particular time and are first come, first serve, while supplies last, FIDO is dedicated to being open and providing supplies to needy residents during the entire four hours they are open from noon until 4pm on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.
The two largest groups of recipients seen at the pantry are families with pets, and feral colony caretakers. To receive food, owners or caretakers must provide proof their animals are spayed or neutered. If a client can not afford to spay or neuter the animals in their care, FIDO works to connect the client with free or low-cost services. FIDO uses flexible guidelines to determine if a person is financially eligible, and will work with owners in short-term situations.
A successful pet food pantry day requires 10-15 volunteers, hundreds of pounds of dry dog and cat food with days of prep work to mix the food, and use of FIDO’s headquarters at 456 North Holmes Ave, Indianapolis. Each month, FIDO assists more than 350 Indy residents, supplying over 10,000 lbs of food! Christofferson estimates the pantry needs an additional $30,000 annually, or 4,500lbs of cat food monthly, in donations to continue serving all of the individuals requesting assistance.
FIDO pursues several avenues to help meet demand, and currently partners with organizations such as Indy Humane, FACE Low Cost Spay-Neuter Clinic, ARPO, South Side Animal Shelter, and several retail stores and distribution centers to obtain excess or damaged bags of food. Ultimately, Christoffersen says she would like to see more public awareness of the services they offer, and involvement from the public to help meet demands.
There are a many ways to help FIDO continue to provide this valuable community service. Individuals who are interested in volunteering should contact President Jeni Christoffersen via email at [email protected]. Desired donations include weight circles from food bags, coupons for pet food, plastic litter buckets or any 3-5 gallon bucket for distributing food, and monetary contributions. Dry food donations can be dropped off at FIDO’s headquarters during pantry hours, or sent via their Amazon Wishlist For other donation options, contact the supplies coordinator via [email protected]. Preferred brands for donations include Pedigree, Purina, IAMS, Purina One, and any other grain-free or medium quality pet food. For more information on any of FIDO’s services or needs, visit their website.