The partnership between Empties For Paws and the Ottawa Paw Pantry
By: Denise Berube, Outreach Coordinator, Ottawa Paw Pantry

In January 2015, Gisele founded Empties For Paws with the goal to donate money to help as many pets as she could. The original idea is to get folks to donate their deposit return from alcohol bottles to a local animal rescue. It is a simple concept that could help save so many animals. Over the four years since Empties For Paws began, the movement has raised over $325,000 for animals in need. 

When Laura founded The Ottawa Paw Pantry in 2016, she quickly signed up to be a beneficiary on the Empties For Paws list for the Ottawa area. The Ottawa Paw Pantry is a pet food resource that helps families secure food for their pets when their families are unable to afford to feed them. When folks donate their empties to the Ottawa Paw Pantry, the money can be used to buy food to fill furry bellies in challenging times. 

Gisele with her dog Zach

Before the Empties for Paws cause was created, Gisele always knew that there was an easy way for everyone to help the animals. At her house in Arnprior, Ontario, she would have a loose change jar on the kitchen counter. Gisele would roll up those nickels, dimes and pennies (at that time!) and give them to Valley Animal Rescue in Renfrew, Ontario where she was a volunteer. That money would help to feed pets and pay vet bills, like spaying and neutering cats and dogs. 

Gisele says the biggest challenge for animal rescues in our community is the number of pets that are not being spayed or neutered, and in particular, stray cats. She says it’s so easy for a pair of cats to multiple into a dozen, which increases the need to house, feed and care for them. If the animal rescues and shelters could have more funds to pay for these expensive services this could help out the pet community, Gisele says. 

Gisele acknowledges that a lot of people want to help out animals, but sometimes they don’t have money to spare. “If people are already buying wine and beer bottles, the deposit is already paid; it’s an easy way for anyone to give to a rescue”, she says. A 24 case of beer could generate a return of $2.40, which may not seem like much, but it can help to pay for three tins of cat food. Imagine how much cat food we could buy after the next long weekend! 

Empties For Paws is an easy way for anyone to help out. You can check out www.emptiesforpaws.com (sponsored by Bone Voyage, a dog sitting service in Ottawa) to find a bottle drop off location nearby or a rescue you’d like to help out, like the Ottawa Paw Pantry. Gisele is happy about the partnership between Empties for Paws and the Ottawa Paw Pantry. “I’m so happy your organization can benefit from this, from my idea,” she says. 

The money OPP collected from empties

You can donate your empties to the Ottawa Paw Pantry at three locations around the city: Barrhaven, Nepean, and Westboro / Carlington. Email hello@ottawapawpantry.ca for details.

Most of all, Gisele is proud of the money that’s been raised through Empties for Paws: “Every time I see a post [on social media] about how much money is raised at an organization, it makes me think ‘Wow, I did that! I got the ball rolling on this.” She is grateful and proud to help out these animal rescues.