Everyone deserves a delicious meal on Thanksgiving. That’s why volunteers with the Detroit-based nonprofit Bark Nation spent last week fixing up special holiday dinners for more than 2,000 shelter dogs.
“Turkey, pumpkin, potato, green beans, and apple,” says Bark Nation co-founder Kelly McLaughlin. “Spreading ridiculous amounts of comfort and cheer to those that need it most.”
This is the fourth year that Bark Nation fed shelter dogs on turkey day, and the project keeps growing.
In 2012, the inaugural year, the group made meals for a few hundred dog fight bust survivors housed at a temporary shelter.
This year, dogs at more than a dozen shelters in the Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Grand Rapids areas of Michigan, and Phoenix, Arizona, were served.
“These animals are at a city municipal shelter through absolutely no fault of their own,” says Patricia Trevino, director of the River Rouge Animal Shelter, a participating shelter in River Rouge, Michigan.
“It makes my heart smile to know they are included and not forgotten, and they too get to join in the festivities by getting something extra special.”
“So amazing,” says Detroit Animal Care and Control director Melissa Miller. “When I think how little the animals had last year, and then this generous gift… It’s like winning the lottery.”
Bark Nation specializes in shelter enrichment — providing toys, treats, and training to keep shelter dogs’ minds active and their bodies healthy, and improving their chances of adoption.
So they don’t just put out big heaping plates of food for these lucky dogs. Instead, the feasts themselves are meant to provide enjoyment and enrichment.
Some get their food in the form of a frozen pup-sicle, while others enjoy nibbling their Thanksgiving vittles out of a KONG.
McLaughlin loves seeing the pups encountering their meals. “First excited, sometimes confused, and then content. Contently laying in their kennels working on their meal. Utilizing their minds and combating boredom and shelter stress,” she says.
Added bonus: the emptied KONGs get reused, over and over — usually as toys, but in another month, they’ll be stuffed with seasonal goodies again when Bark Nation puts on its very first Christmas meal for shelter dogs.
“We are extending this initiative to A Very Merry KONGsmas 2016, where even more area shelters will receive life-saving enrichment items and resources,” says McLaughlin. “And of course, delicious treats.”