Since 2009, people who counted on Sacramento's animal shelter to help them feed their pets could always stop by "Titanic's Pantry" for free food to allow them to keep their pets.
But for the first time in memory, the shelves are bare, and officials are putting out a desperate call for help.
"We are out of food," said Gina Knepp, spokeswoman for the city's Animal Care Services. "We have many, many customers who come to us daily for cat and dog food.
"The premise behind that is we are trying to help people who may be struggling financially to feed their pets so they don't have to give them up."
Knepp said the pantry, named for a gargantuan cat the shelter adopted as a mascot, typically goes through hundreds of pounds a week of cat and dog food donated by individuals and stores, including pet stores that turn over their supplies of torn pet food bags.
"It's individuals, stores Save Mart in Vacaville gives us thousands of pounds of dry dog food when the packaging breaks," Knepp said.
The shelter at 2127 Front St. normally sees a steady stream of people seeking free food from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, she said.
"But demand is high, and the contributions have just been low," Knepp said, adding that she had contacted the county and other animal care groups and found no one had any pet food to provide.
"It's been several days (since the pantry had food)," she said. "Usually, we get a little miracle" before running out.
Knepp said some area residents have been collecting food and have accumulated 300 pounds at the Sierra 2 Center that she hopes to pick up for distribution today, but that amount won't last long.
"I once brought in 7,500 pounds and it was gone in three weeks," she said. "That's a lot of food."
The shelter has posted a plea for help on its Facebook page and asks that anyone willing to donate bring it to the Front Street shelter Wednesdays through Sundays or call the city's 311 information line for more details.