Meet our newest Change Unleashed! Partner: People & Pets Together Emergency Pet Food Shelf

Everyone knows food insecurity is a huge problem. Especially over the last few years, turn on the tv or radio, or open a newspaper or computer news feed, and you’ll likely see a story about someone struggling to feed themselves or their family. In Minnesota, one in nine people are uncertain where their next meal will come from.

Now consider that The American Veterinary Medical Association says 54% of Minnesotans own one or more pets.

That’s a lot of canine (and feline) tummies to fill! If so many people are having a hard time finding the resources to feed themselves, how can they afford to feed the beloved pets?


This is where People & Pets Together  (P&PT) comes in. Located just four miles from Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out, P&PT is an emergency pet food shelf exclusively serving the pets of people in need. How cool, right? We certainly think so—and that’s why Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out selected P&PT to be our most recent Change Unleashed!  program partner.

P&PT’s mission is to support the relationships that people have with their pets, and to prevent the surrender of pets during times of economic crisis. “Everyone who walks through our door loves their pet and wants them to have the best life possible. They just need a little help to do that,” says Kate Sobraske, P&PT Outreach Program Manager​.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the cost of pet food increased by more than 15% in 2022. This price jump—on top of a 10% increase in the cost of human food over the same period of time—is adding to the financial stress on pet owners.

Check out these P&PT emergency food shelf highlights:

  • More than 132 tons (yes, TONS) of dog and cat food were distributed in 2022.
  • The food shelf is set up like a boutique with the goal of providing an authentic shopping experience.
  • Minneapolis residents with pets can visit once a month to receive 50% of their dog’s weight (up to 80 lbs.) in pet food. Individuals who are part of P&PT’s tribal partnership program, as well as homeless people and those without a permanent address, can visit the food shelf too.
  • An average of 500 people visit the food shelf every month.
  • The food shelf also stocks cat food and litter, and a limited supply of food for birds, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits and other companion animals.
  • Currently the food shelf is open 11 hours per week. (There’s always a line prior to doors opening and the stream of people in need of food for their pets is steady up until close.)

Now through June there are three ways you can join Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out in supporting P&PT and HELP HUNGRY DOGS:

  • Round up or give an extra $2, $5, $10 or more when you checkout. Your contributions mean a lot, double in fact, because Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out are matching customer donations up to $500 per month!
  • Bring unopened dog or cat food or other much needed pet care items  for donation to either of our locations.
  • Purchase a bag or two of nutritious puppy food (the #1 need) at our front counters for the discounted wholesale price of $13, and put it right into the P&PT collection barrel.

P&PT was founded fourteen years ago as The Pet Project, in response to the global economic downturn and heartbreaking stories of people who were forced to give up their pets due to financial hardship. In early 2016, P&PT opened its pet food shelf and in 2021 it merged with Secondhand Hounds (SHH), one of the largest animal rescues in the state.

SHH rescues dogs from kill shelters around the Midwest and from owners who can no longer provide care for their dogs. They also rescue cats from local shelters and owners who can no longer provide care for their cats.

“It breaks our hearts to think of people having to surrender their pets because they can’t afford to feed them,” says Ralph Bernstein, owner of Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out. “We hope all our customers will seriously consider participating in our Change Unleashed! initiative, started as a way to support the great work of local pet welfare organizations like P&PT.”

We look forward to seeing you soon for boarding, daycare, a bath or a groom!

P&PT and SHH are always looking for volunteers. To learn more about how you can help make a difference in the lives of people and their pets, click here  or here .

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.