Sometimes it’s hard to tell people what The Pongo Fund does. To explain what The Pongo Fund means. To describe the work we do and why we do it. We’re a small-but-mighty volunteer driven team that has no marketing or public relations staff to tell our story. We’re just the little guy that has developed a new way to save lives by keeping animals safe at home and out of the shelters. But maybe the real challenge is not in speaking the words that tell people what we do. But in reliving the memories that those words bring. Because the stories are many. And sometimes they hurt.
Sometimes those stories hurt so much that they are never told. Instead they remain locked away in the heart of the few that were there. Left unshared because we did all we could do and sometimes it was enough and sometimes it wasn’t.
We help seniors and veterans and the mentally and physically disabled. We help young children whose only reliable friend is their dog. We help victims of disaster, both natural and otherwise. We help single moms, couples, families and far too often we’re called upon to help victims of domestic violence who sometimes have had almost everything beaten out of them save for the love they have for their animals.
We’ve rescued a dog named Dutch unintentionally left locked in a truck when his truck driver dad Francis faced emergency surgery. We’ve provided food to people when their homes have burned down and all they cared about were their pets that survived and now they needed food to feed them.
We’ve rescued a sweet 17 year-old, Gandhi like Beagle named Scooby, set to be euthanized the next day. Thankfully he wasn’t. And he went on to live for many more years, he’s a timeless 150 years-old now.
We’ve bought litters of pups stacked in boxes on freeway ramps, refusing to let them become commodities for the unethical people who held them captive. And for each one, we got them safe and healthy and into loving forever homes. Most recently it was a litter of pibbles who had no idea they were destined for Hell, thankfully we succeeded in preventing that. Adding to the sweet and sour of that moment was when their person, a young, innocent homeless boy, told us the Momma dog’s name was Heaven. Yes, we got her too.
And then we personally introduced him to the help he needed to get off the streets, help he was too ashamed to ask for himself.
We’ve helped a mom keep the secret of homelessness away from her young daughter who was happy to believe they were car camping with their dog.
We’ve amputated diseased and damaged limbs that needed to be set free, and we’ve watched with absolute joy as those animals continued unfazed, happily sporting three on the floor instead of four.
We’ve healed abscesses so serious they had eaten through skin, causing enormous pain and infection for brave animals too stoic to ever let their parents know they were in pain. We’ve pulled failing teeth, repaired diseased gums, removed countless tumors and other masses, and brought an end to more fleas, mites and worms then we can count.
And we were there to comfort a broken-hearted octogenarian when both his elderly wife and elderly cat died within days of one another. He said he wanted to honor them but could not afford to donate money. So we brought bags of kibble to his home and worked with him so he could honor their memories by being part of our kibble packing team. Maybe the most loved kibble we’ve ever packed.
We’ve been there to provide high-quality food for exhausted search and rescue dogs, and our kibble couriers have answered the call many times when help was needed beyond our borders.
And we’ve helped spay and neuter more than 1,000 dogs and cats too.
After a week’s worth of delicate conversations a broke and broken hearted woman allowed us to drive her and her best friend to a loving veterinarian that released her dog from pain and helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge. Without us she would have had to carry her 50 pound dog on the bus. And as she said, she knew she could not do that either physically or emotionally.
And when it was over we introduced her to a grief counselor to help make sure that she too got the help she needed.
Our emergency kibble response team has helped countless strong willed and proud seniors with senior pets who together were living on scraps because they were too proud to ask for help. And each and every time we helped one, we helped all. Because bringing dog food to a disabled military veteran who had no food for himself or his wife didn’t seem right. So we fed them all, two and four-legged alike.
We’ve returned ashes in urns to best friends who have lost best friends. And sometimes we’ve brought the shovel to help dig the hole and say the prayers before another one was laid to rest.
We’ve answered the call late at night when a young boy living on the streets needed help when his dog was sick and he didn’t know where to turn. But he knew we were safe and would not judge.
And we were there to help fight for The Howard 22, a group of 22 starving horses that had done nothing wrong except find themselves without food due to an extra rough winter. And since then we’ve quietly provided hay for dozens of hungry horses who had little more than weeds to eat otherwise.
We’ve rescued boxes of kittens left in parks and we’ve received letters from people asking if we would look after their pets if anything happened to them. We’ve sent food to areas pummeled by hurricanes, fires and landslides. We’ve walked the streets in the middle of the night when we knew there were people and pets out there that needed us.
We’ve hiked into the forest to softly say hello to a group of angry veterans with happy but hungry dogs and cats and reminded them it was still ok to have hope. We’ve fostered pets while their people faced emergencies. We’ve rescued newborn puppies from cardboard boxes being pushed in shopping carts and made sure they found their forever homes.
And we’ve mourned each and every one that we could not help. Each and every one that has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
The list of what The Pongo Fund has done during these past 7½ years is likely longer than anyone realizes. But we’ve touched tens of thousands of people and their pets in a way they had never been touched before.
We have given a chance to animals that did not have a chance and given hope to families who had little left to be hopeful for. To our volunteers, our donors, to all of our friends and supporters who offer words of hope and encouragement, we thank you, because everything we do, we do together.
The Pongo Fund is Oregon’s Pet Food Bank and so much more.
And this is why we Pongo.