By Jennie Mull, contributing writer
The local free pet food nonprofit PAWsitive Pantry will host a dog parade at Sugarbush Resort this July 4 from 1-2 p.m., resuming the tradition after a hiatus due to COVID-19 last year.
For the 11th Sugarbush dog parade, the theme is unity, love and pets. The parade’s grand marshal is Dr. Roy Hadden, a local veterinarian. Fiddlehead Brewing, National Life and Wiggly Butts are sponsors.
Registration starts at noon and the parade begins in the Lincoln Peak Courtyard. Both owners and their pets are encouraged to wear costumes.
The tickets benefit the pantry and every registration receives a gift.
Since 2009, the pantry has been providing free pet food to Vermonters who need it to support pets and owners who will often look after their pets' needs over their own.
“Multiple studies show that food-insecure households will often feed their pets before eating themselves,” wrote Jason Maring, the chief operations officer at the Vermont Foodbank, in a reference letter for the pantry.
Anne Greshin, Warren, has been volunteering at PAWsitive Pantry for 11 years. She secures grants and donations, from writing appeal letters to applying for regional grants. Stacy LeBaron is the current president and hosts the Community Cats podcast. (www.communitycatspodcast.com)
“We currently provide about 4,500 dog and 8,100 cat meals per month,” said Greshin.
Vermont Foodbank partners with the pantry to supply community members throughout the state with pet food. The partnership is mutually beneficial, as the foodbank receives funding for pet food and the foodbank provides the pantry with grant assistance and letters of support.
PAWsitive Pantry has fine-tuned its pet food distribution process. Volunteers started by picking up donated pet food from businesses and distributing it themselves. Since the pantry expanded volunteers now send money to the foodbank which is able to purchase food at lower prices.
“We're in the minority of foodbanks across the country that distribute pet food,” said Maring.
“We have about 300 network and community partners throughout the state,” said Maring, and the foodbank allocates pet food to these locations.
According to the Vermont Foodbankm before the pandemic one in 10 Vermonters were food insecure. During the pandemic, one in three were food insecure. As many Vermonters own pets, food insecurity also applies to their animals.
“Seventy percent of Vermont households own a pet,” said Greshin.
With the rise in demand for human food, the demand for pet food also increased. The pantry has had to adapt to suppliers no longer carrying pet food and seek new sources during the pandemic. Greshin continues to apply for grants.
Financial contributors to PAWsitive Pantry in the past year include PetSmart, which donated in May, and Waitsfield locals who increased support. Cuddly, a crowdfunding website for animal welfare, now partners with the pantry. Bark Shop is donating all of the proceeds from their Bernie’s paw warmer dog to PAWsitive Pantry.
To donate to PAWsitive Pantry, visit www.pawsitivepantry.org and click the donate now button.