Dog’s face is shown while being held in hands. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOUN PROJECT / SNAPPER

Jenna Karr

Staff Writer

It all began with $10. Melody Sanders was working the cash register at a pet store when she saw a lady leave with a bag of dog food without paying for it. Before she could approach the lady, a man stops her and hands her $10. He tells her that he will pay for the food and the lady is going to pay him back later. This was the spark that ignited Sanders to start The Pet Pantry of Lancaster County (PPLC) business. 

Sanders is the Co-founder, CEO, and President of the Board for the PPLC located at 26 Millersville Road. The company started in 2011 when people were surrendering their pets to shelters due to being unable to afford food for them as a result of the economic downturn. This broke Sanders’s heart. She decided to collect donations from the public and distribute them to families in need. 

“Give me a challenge, and I’ll make it happen,” Sanders said.

The PPLC’s food distribution program is on select Saturdays from 9 am – 11 am in the PPLC’s parking lot. However, since they are dependent on donations, they have to limit the program’s assistance to four pets per household. They are currently helping 285 families per month. If anyone wants to apply for this program, there is an application to fill out on the PPLC’s website at 

“Help yourself and we’ll help you,” said Sanders. 

There are currently 41 cats available for adoption at PPLC. Cats are the most surrendered and adopted animals at PPLC. Sanders says they adopt 450 cats per year. 

“We have surrender lists from last year,” she said. “There are so many stray cats that keep getting pregnant.”

When the pandemic started, Sanders noticed pet adoptions increased due to people being home all day while in lockdown. But when the lockdowns lifted, people realized they were unable to look after their pets. 

“More pets were surrendered when the pandemic started to ease,” she said. “They gained separation anxiety when their owners went back to work, and the owners couldn’t handle them.”

Donations from the public are the driving factors of the PPLC. Their website provides a wish list of supplies that support not only the animals but the business itself. Their requests range from pet toys to toilet paper. But the item they wish for the most is dry cat food.

“It’s like gold to us,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t have to be a certain brand. We’ll take it.”

Like any animal shelter, the PPLC is in need of volunteers. Volunteering does not only consist of cleaning the kennels. There are other volunteer positions one can apply to. 

“You can help store food donations, hand out the food donations at our food distribution, even help us out at our thrift shop,” Sanders said. 

If anyone is interested in volunteering at the PPLC, there is an application to fill out on their website.