Nicole Frey took her love of animals and turned it into a large non-profit organization serving anyone and everyone who loves their pet.
It all started with Odin, the dog of a homeless man that Frey met while living in Kelowna.
“I went home and was like ‘how does this dude feed his dog?’ and started Googling and found out there wasn’t a pet food bank in the region. There’s actually not a lot of them across Canada, or at that time there wasn’t. So I decided to launch and two days later we launched, just my husband and I.”
The Animal Food Bank launched in Dec. 2019 and has grown from Frey delivering pet food in the Kelowna area to helping pet owners around the world feed their furry friends.
“My dream coming out of dog rescue was that we’d find a way to unite efforts and collaborate and share resources, it’s the total opposite of what the traditional non-profit or charitable model is.”
As soon as it started, Frey says she knew she wanted it to be a national initiative.
“We ended up starting in Kelowna and then I Googled my hometown of Winnipeg and realized that there wasn’t one there. So, we flew out to Winnipeg to start that in Feb. of 2020. The intention was to spread across Canada as quickly as we could, but then COVID hit and we kind of hunkered down with Western Canada as our focus.”
Since then, Frey says they’ve launched in Calgary and in Medicine Hat where she now lives, but deliveries have gone even further.
“We’ve delivered all across the globe actually. We get requests from Thailand and Ireland and India and New Zealand, we’ve done a delivery in New Zealand.”
Frey says the work she’s done has proven the need for an animal food bank is global and doesn’t discriminate.
“I had no idea what I was getting into… I just wanted to feed dogs and it branched very quickly into any kind of animal that we can help and then branched into disaster relief, because we had the 2021 floods and fires.”
At that time Frey says they went wherever they were needed, filling in gaps that other organizations could not.
“I had a hypothesis when I started the Animal Food Bank that everybody would love everybody else’s pets like their own and we would be willing to put aside what we perceive the humans to be doing wrong in order to help the pet.”
Frey and her husband AJ run the AFB completely on a volunteer basis, also owning a web design business as their source of income.
“I have an incredibly amazing, supportive husband which I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’m doing without him. We have the poster-child relationship for a partnership and just being supportive of one another… He’s also very passionate about animal welfare and cats and dogs and things like that and helping the community in general. Having my passion behind it and then AJ’s passion I think has been key.”
Frey says it hardly feels like work when you love what you do.
“I have got to tell you, when 2021 happened and the floods and fires happened, and then the war broke out in Ukraine, I think we raised over $60,000 for that… I was tired, like so tired, but I’ve never been tired enough to want to give up.”
Learn all about the Animal Food Bank, volunteer opportunities, or how to get support by visiting animalfoodbank.org.