Shadow's Pet Pantry of Taylor needs your support

Shadow's Pet Pantry, which provides dog food and cat food at no cost to pets of needy families, needs your support. The Taylor-based charity is in the running for a $25,000 grant in the Pepsi Refresh program, but needs lots of online votes from Internet users to get selected.

Lois Nemeth, a Taylor woman who originated Shadow's Pet Pantry in March and operates Heritage Bark in Taylor's Heritage Park, is one of 1,148 ideas under consideration for a grant in the nationwide Pepsi program. At this writing, Shadow's Pet Pantry is ranked 24th. Only the top 10 vote-getters will receive $25,000 grants.

Shadow's Pet Pantry is named for Nemeth's dog, Shadow, which died in December. Nemeth works with the clients of the Fish and Loaves Community Food Pantry, also based in Taylor. Fish and Loaves provides food to needy people in Taylor and five surrounding communities. As a service, Nemeth talks to Fish and Loaves clients and provides pet food so people can afford to keep a beloved family dog or cat.

The mission statement of Shadow's Pet Pantry is: "You don't have to face this journey alone. At Shadow's Pet Pantry, it is our mission to provide the highest standard of compassion. We are a non-profit company that offers food to dogs and cats of loving families in need. From our pantry to yours. Together caring for the ones we love."

Since Nemeth started the program in March, Shadow's has provided pet food to more than 150 needy families, often relying on donations. Winning a Pepsi Refresh grant would allow Nemeth to extend her charitable reach, providing more food to more family pets.

"My goal is to enrich the community," said Nemeth, who also is a volunteer member of the Taylor Beautification Commission and the Taylor Farmers Market board. "The need is so great. Fish and Loaves is overwhelmed with requests for food. They have almost 5,000 families registered. I've never turned anybody away. I'm excited how much this $25,000 would do for the community."

Nemeth has operated Heritage Bark, a small business in Taylor's Heritage Park, since April 2005. The store is a gourmet dog treats bakery that also has an array of dog collars, leashes and candles. Heritage Bark is known for its low prices. Treats start at 25 cents. Nemeth said that if a child came into her store and only had a quarter, the youth could purchase a treat for a pet.

Nemeth said that it was at Heritage Bark that she heard about needy families who couldn't afford to feed their pets. As a result, she formed Shadow's Pet Pantry.

"Animals enrich our lives and teach our children to be loving, caring and kind," Nemeth said. "I can't imagine having to give up a pet. Lives are hard enough without having to make these kinds of choices."

There are a couple ways to vote for Shadow's Pet Pantry. The easiest way may be to visit the site directly and vote:  http://www.refresheverything.com/shadowspetpantry. Registration takes less than a minute. Those signed up can vote every day. They can even vote under more than one e-mail address.

People can also vote from their mobile phone. Text 101305 to Pepsi (73774). Standard text messaging rates apply.

The top 100 finishers at the end of the month roll over to the next month. Those that finish lower than 100th place must re-apply. The Precious Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) of Riverview recently received a $50,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh program by finishing in the top 10.

For more information about Shadow's Pet Pantry, contact Heritage Bark at (734) 374-BARK.

(Shadow's Pet Pantry was recently featured in a blog that highlights community opportunities for service. To read "One Way Every Day," visit http://www.onewayeveryday.com/?p=1996.)