Is The Pope Catholic?

The message came via text from our friends at Philadoptables in Philly. “The Pet Valu in Silver Spring is closing and they’re looking for people to pick up donations of food this week.  Do you know any rescue partners in need?”

Is the Pope Catholic?

Hell yes, every rescue we know is in need and none more so than the groups that work to keep Baltimore’s street kitties fed and cared for.  We immediately sent a group message to the caretakers of the Peninsula Colony, Feral Cats of Bethlehem Steel, Feline Rescue Association and Saving Grace Animal Rescue.  “Could you all use some donated food?”

It took a nanno second for an answer to come back.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Now the trick was coordinating a pick up.  For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Silver Spring is about an hour south of Baltimore and if that trip is made during normal commute times (pretty much any time before or after work), you better pack lunch, dinner and a sleeping bag just in case.

That’s when my phone dinged a second time.

“One small problem. We just learned the food was already shipped to their warehouse in Levittown, PA.”

After Google mapping Levittown, that small problem became a much bigger one.  Namely, a four-hour round trip that had to happen in spite of work schedules and life responsibilities.

Back to the group text.  Could anybody do a pick-up in Pennsylvania in the next day or so?  This time, the answer wasn’t so upbeat.  “I’ve got to work.”  “I’m on a 12-hour shift that day.”  “We’re at the Pet Expo for the next three days.” I had pretty much given up hope when another ding from Philadoptables came in.

“We just spoke to Pet Valu and they’ll deliver the pallets to their Olney store, but someone has to pick it up on Friday.”

Hallelujah. Surely, we could get that done.

Back to the group message.  “Can anybody pick up at the Olney store (only a mere 45 minutes away) on Friday?  The only hiccup is that there’s no telling what time the pallets will arrive.  It could be anytime from late morning to late afternoon.  And the only way to know is to continually call the store and ask.”

That’s when I learned the crushing news.

Virtually every one of those rescues was committed to the Pet Expo and had already called in all of their volunteers for full-day, multiple day duty.

There were no bodies to spare and that meant all the hoops Philadoptables and Pet Valu had jumped through to make this happen were for naught.  Even worse, it also meant much-needed food wouldn’t be making its way to Baltimore’s animals.


Maybe, just maybe, there was an angel out there not related to these organizations who might be willing to drop everything to pitch in and help?  We decided to post a request on our personal Facebook pages.

“Would anyone be willing to drive to Olney on Friday to pick up a load of free food for Baltimore’s homeless cats and dogs?  You’d have to be flexible, the food is coming from a warehouse in PA and we don’t know what time it will arrive.”

Ironically, the first two people who answered were rescue friends from Pennsylvania.  The third, however, was Marie Hallock-Sweet, one of our own hometown angels.

For those who don’t know Marie, she sits on the board of Storyteller’s Express and spends pretty much all of her free time (when she’s not fostering or working at BARCS’ vaccination clinics) transporting animals from shelters and rescues to new homes up and down the east coast.  “I think we can help.  Can we share this?”

Is the Pope Catholic?

Within hours, Marie had the transport sorted and on Friday night, after a full day at work, she and Meg Alexander (one of her transport angel colleagues and also a Soft Side volunteer) headed south to Olney.  What awaited them shocked us all.  Three pallets, taller than either of the ladies, filled with cat food, dog food, specialty food, kitty litter, bird seed and just about anything else an animal organization could ask for.  In fact, there was so much, they couldn’t carry it all.

At 9pm on Friday night, my phone dinged again.  The ladies had loaded two SUV’s and agreed to come back the next morning for the remainder, but meanwhile were headed north to Baltimore. An hour or so later, the gold mine was delivered to one of Baltimore’s kitty angels who would distribute to the others over the weekend.

This morning, bright and early, my phone started dinging again.  Meg had picked up the remaining items and somehow managed to still squeeze herself into the driver’s seat of her SUV.

She was headed north to Baltimore and her first stop would be BARCS.  Although most shelters have contracts with food companies, therefore can’t use donated pet food, they go through kitty litter like a tornado in Texas.  As of this morning, BARCS’ shelves are stocked and the delivery was personally overseen and approved by one of their charges, a four-legged cat lover named Penguin.

We’ve often said that animal lovers are a special breed and that belief was once again driven home (in multiple SUV’s) over the past few days.  We can’t thank Pet Valu, Michelle Helms and Philadoptables, Marie Hallock-Sweet and Meg Alexander enough for their generosity, time and big Softie hearts.

Are we incredibly blessed to have friends and partners like these?

I can answer that in four words.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Volunteers are the lifeblood of all rescue efforts. If you can spare an hour or more every so often, we hope you’ll look into the opportunities at Philadoptables, Feral Cats of Bethlehem Steel, Feline Rescue Association, Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland and Storyteller’s Express.