REFERRING TO themselves as "foster failures" because they keep every dog they try to foster, lawyer Mark Mese and his wife had the thought to do something to make a difference in animals' lives without having to give up their home to every animal in need.  They found out about the Houston Rescue Bank, which is essentially a food bank but for pets. Mese loved this idea and decided to start his
own organization to help Baton Rouge-area animals in 2009. Now called the Louisiana Pet Pantry, the local group is an affiliate of the national Rescue Bank, which facilitates the distribution of food to animal welfare non-profits around
the country.

Louisiana Pet Pantry supplies food to 30 or more rescue groups in south and central Louisiana. "We help the people that help the animals," says Mese. Every shipment received is 40,000 pounds, an entire 18-wheeler load. These shipments come ยท4 or 5 times a year: They give it all away at once, distributing the food to each rescue group.

Big pet food brands like Purina donate the food, but the freight payment comes out of the pockets of Pet Pantry board members and volunteers. The cost is near $2,000 for every shipment. The food they give out typically only lasts in the animal shelters for about 30 to 60 days. This unique organization improves the lives of close to 1,000 cats and dogs by providing a generous amount of food but still is not enough to support every animal in the shelters.

In an effort to raise funds for future food shipments, Pet Pantry will hold a vacation raffle July 6. Raffle tickets can be purchased at many veterinary hospitals in the Baton Rouge area. For $5 a ticket, you could win a weeklong stay in a mountain house in North Carolina or a beach vacation.

Pet Pantry is in constant need of people who want to extend a helping hand. "We are always looking for more volunteers-we never have enough,'' says Mese.
To volunteer or make a donation, contact Mark Mese at 225.382.3424 or