Area woman turns animal love into puppy chow

Brenda Young's dog Buddy, who she's had for 13 years, is part of what inspired her to start Food4Paws. (Caitlin Clark/Grand Central Magazine)


Central Michigan University Alumni Brenda Young has a passion for her pets and a passion for helping other people. Recently, she has combined both in an effort to help elderly people in the community be able to continue caring for their pets.

“It’s all about the animals, I couldn’t live a day without my animals. I never want a senior to have to give up their pet,” said Young when asked about why she started the non-profit organization Food4Paws in December.

Young says it was an idea that “just came to me.”

In some cases pets might be all an elderly person has, but they have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets.  Thanks to Brenda they do not have to make that difficult decision anymore.  Brenda goes to Warren, Michigan every other month and purchases dog and cat food for people in the community and distributes it free of charge. She mixes two different dog food brands.  The food is more dense and has less fillers, so the animals don’t have to eat as much.  She describes herself as “fussy about food.”

Brenda says she helps out about five cats and 14 dogs and keeps a list of the participants so she knows what animal gets what food.  She also makes her own dog treats that are healthy and contain no preservatives.

“I am making three batches a night to keep up with demands,” she said.

Brenda is no stranger to pets.  She has dogs and looks at them like they are her children.  Once Brenda and her husband get a dog, it is with them for life.  They don’t believe in having a pet and then getting rid of it.  Two of her dogs are Delta Society certified, which is a big deal since most dogs don’t even make it half-way through certification.  Both of these dogs also help out in the community.

Every Monday night Brenda and her Standard Poodle Cruise go to the memory unit at a local elderly care facility.  Ruby, Brenda’s other Standard Poodle is part of “Tale Waggers” a program that has kids read to dogs to help build reading confidence.

Brenda and her poodles enjoy competing in obedience trials, but she wasn’t content doing just that and she decided to become more active in the community.

“I want to be more involved and make my community better,” she said.

In just 90 days, Food4Paws has given 300 pounds of pet food to cats and dogs in Isabella County.  Currently, Food4Paws does not have a place to store all of the donated food.  This is not stopping Brenda or her volunteers from continuing to help out in the community.

Jim and Marilyn Doyle and their two Chihuahua’s Angel and Arnold receive dog food from Food4Paws.

“This means a lot and helps out a lot,” Marilyn said when asked about Brenda’s program.

Donations of time and money are still very much appreciated.  If able to help out, checks can be made payable to Food4Paws and mail to 998 W. Remus Rd, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858.  By making any sort of donation it will help someone that otherwise may have had to give up their pet.  Brenda’s dog treats are on sale at the Commission on Aging for $2 as well as a few other local businesses and can’t be kept in stock because they are so popular! All proceeds go directly to Food4Paws.