Archive | PETS

People & Pets Together keeps families from giving up animals

Posted on 28 August 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Local nonprofit helps families and their pets during economic crisis

By Chloe Peter
An older woman walked through the door of People & Pets Together, a program that provides pet food and supplies for those in need. When getting her pet food, she started up a conversation with volunteers and pulled out her phone to show pictures of her two cats, her face lighting up. She’s a regular at the food shelf.
Her husband is no longer living, and her children live out of state. Often, she’ll come in and give updates on the cats’ health or something funny they did that week. Nick Atwood, the program director at People & Pets Together, has come to know her very well over the years.
“For seniors like her on a fixed income, surviving largely on Social Security, our services are very important,” Atwood said, “She has told us more than once that without us providing her with food and cat litter, she would not be able to afford to keep her pets.”
People & Pets Together is a nonprofit organization based at 3745 Bloomington Ave. The program started in 2009. It was the midst of a financial crisis. People were out of jobs, and families were struggling to keep their homes. Not only did People & Pets Together provide food, but also, cat litter, food and water dishes, leashes and collars, and even flea and tick prevention, so the families could keep their beloved pets and have one less thing to worry about in difficult times.
“We heard stories of people who were considering surrendering their family pet because they could not afford to care for the dog and cat anymore. The stories were heartbreaking,” Atwood said.
The official pet food shelf opened in 2016. They first focused on getting food and care out for people who had pets in the Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods of Minneapolis. But, they have since expanded to serving the entire city. People qualify to receive free pet food if they participate in a government assistance program, such as food support, Medicaid or housing assistance, or if they are unemployed or their annual income falls below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. On average, People & Pets together help 25 families get the food they need for their pet each day. In 2019 alone, they served nearly 900 households.
The program’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.”

Donation drop box
During COVID-19, People & Pets Together has seen an increase of demands for pet food and other supplies. There are more first-time clients than in years past, and they’re serving many people who worked in restaurants and other businesses closed by the pandemic.
People & Pets Together is also providing pet food to other food shelves in the Twin Cities and have had to increase their deliveries because the other shelters are seeing increased demand, as well. This year, the program has delivered more than 40,000 pounds of pet food to other food shelves.
“We welcome donations of pet food and gently used pet supplies. We have a drop box in the parking lot behind our pet food shelf where donations can be placed at any time. Financial donations are especially appreciated,” Atwood said. Financial donations can also be made online at
People & Pets Together has also been impacted by the recent protests and uprising. Many grocery stores, small markets, and dollar stores in the program’s area were damaged or closed. This, too, has increased the number of people coming to look for pet food and supplies at the food shelf because essentials are difficult to find. However, this has not stopped the community from giving back. People & Pets Together has seen increased donations both from neighborhood drives and pet food manufacturers.
“It has been encouraging to see the community respond by donating food and money to help residents and community groups,” Atwood said, “We often hear from our clients that they would spend their last dollar to purchase food for their pet rather than to buy food for themselves.”
The People & Pets Facebook page is overflowing with comments of gratitude from other shelters, individuals, and families that the program has impacted. Several people made comments about fundraising in their neighborhoods, donating money for birthdays instead of receiving gifts, and even starting a lemonade stand where all proceeds go to charity and set up laundry baskets labeled “PETS” to be filled with supplies.
“When we give people food to feed pets, we take one worry off their list and allow them to focus on their own needs,” Atwood said.

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Bark Ranger Program starting soon

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

NPS staff creating new way for people and dogs to enjoy Coldwater Spring

The Bark Ranger trainings on Jan. 4 and 9 will be a great opportunity to engage with staff and volunteers, and to learn more about both the histories and the lay-out of Coldwater Spring. (Photo courtesy of NPS)

The Bark Ranger Program is a joint venture of the National Park Service (NPS) and their non-profit partner, the Mississippi Park Connection. In early January, a cadre of four-legged volunteers and their owners will be sworn in at Coldwater Spring. New recruits to this awareness campaign will pledge to leash their dogs while walking at Coldwater Spring, pick up dog waste, and respect wildlife and habitat restoration.
NPS land manager Neil Smarjesse, leads the habitat restoration crews at Coldwater Spring. He said, “We would like to create a different way for people and their dogs to experience this place. We’re adjacent to the Minnehaha Dog Park, but we are not an off-leash area. When dogs are kept leashed, grassland-nesting birds (like the newly returned clay colored sparrow) aren’t disturbed. We are welcoming back indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, fox, coyote, deer, and many other species.”
The 29-acre site was added to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in 2010, with the goal of restoring the landscape to a prairie oak savannah. A major renovation, which included seeding 13 acres of prairie and wetlands, was completed in 2012. More than 1,000 trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers have been planted on the property.


Coldwater Spring carries historical and cultural significance for some Dakota tribes, as well as being considered a sacred site by other Dakota tribes. Coldwater Spring is a part of the Fort Snelling Historic District, protected as both a National Historic Landmark and National Register listed property under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.


Paula Swingley is the NPS volunteer coordinator. She said, “People love this place for many different reasons. The paths here aren’t straight-to-a-place paths; they meander. It’s a place to enjoy the prairie in all seasons. As part of the Bark Ranger training, there’s the added bonus of learning some of the non-visible history of this site. You can still see the Spring House and the ore bins, but there is so much more to learn.”
Bark Ranger trainings will be held on Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. The drop-in events will include a 30-minute walking tour of the site led by rangers. The address for Coldwater Spring is 5601 Minnehaha Park Drive South. GPS coordinates are: 44.901602, -93.198256. Registration isn’t required, but by going to  and signing up on Event Brite, you’ll be notified of weather-related changes or cancellations.
There is no cost to participate. There are four handicapped accessible parking spots on-site, and plenty of metered parking spots on the street. Canines participating in the BARK Ranger Program will receive a shiny collar tag. Sign up to be a Bark Ranger Ambassador (a volunteer who helps lead future trainings) and receive a stylish bandana. In either capacity, Swingley clarified, “Participants will absolutely not do any law enforcement. They are just there to demonstrate good practices.”
Americorps intern Claire Jaeger Mountain was instrumental in bringing the Bark Ranger Program to Coldwater Spring. She said, “The trainings will be a great opportunity to engage with staff and volunteers, and to hear stories unique to this historic and beautiful place.”


B – bag your dog waste,
A – always keep your dog on a leash,
R – respect wildlife and habitat restoration,
K – know where you can go.

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