Local animal rescue Midwest Animal Rescue Services (MARS) had more than one reason to celebrate National Dog Day yesterday: a delivery of 2,000 pounds of food arrived on their doorstep, courtesy of Captain Phillips actor and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi.
The donation was facilitated by Ellen DeGeneres’ pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, in partnership with FreeKibble.com and GreaterGood.org. These companies joined up to give 20 non-winning Oscar nominees 10,000 doggie meals to donate to the animal rescue of the celebrity’s choice.
While most celebrities donated to Los Angeles shelters, Abdi joined an elite group of actors (including Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep) who chose to donate outside of LA. Having lived in Minnesota since 1999, he wanted to give to a rescue in his adopted home state. And MARS couldn’t be happier about it.
“I don’t even know if Barkhad has any animals,” laughs Lynn Totino, Marketing and Promotion Manager for MARS. “But I was contacted by his agent, who I believe also contacted a few other [rescues in Minnesota] to learn about where they could donate. I heard back a few days later that they had picked us.”
According to Abdi’s agent Donna Massetti, that’s more or less how it went. “When Barkhad found out about the donation that Halo was willing to make on his behalf, he asked me to research pet shelters and rescues in Minneapolis,” says Massetti. “I did that and chatted with Lynn and some of her staff. They told me their story and I shared it with Barkhad. He and I both decided it seemed like the right place.”
That was back in March, and yesterday, the food finally arrived. It was a low-key affair without fanfare or red carpets (appropriate, as dogs aren’t always known for their decorum): just a freight truck with two pallets of Halo pet food, all for MARS.
MARS has a large food storage room on site, where they plan to store the food until it can be sent home with foster families. Each bag will be split into smaller plastic bags to make the food go farther and last longer, feeding as many dogs in their care as possible.
As for Barkhad Abdi, he won’t be coming home to Minnesota anytime soon: he starts filming a new movie this October with Colin Firth, Helen Mirren, and Aaron Paul. Our paws are firmly crossed that, next time he’s an Oscar nominee, this philanthropic hometown hero will go home a winner — but if not, we’re sure plenty of Minnesota rescues would be more than happy to make his acquaintance.