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Pet food demand has risen by 20% over past year, BC SPCA says

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Animal food banks in need of donations'
B.C. wildfires: Animal food banks in need of donations
Evacuations in the Okanagan have put stress on pet owners along with some organizations that have been called in to help. Animal Food Bank was founded in Kelowna back in 2019. It connects agencies on the ground with pet food and supplies but resources are being depleted. – Jul 24, 2023

Demand for meals at BC SPCA food banks increased by 20 per cent in the last year and shelter officials say they can’t keep up with demand.

“In 2022, the BC SPCA provided 532,000 meals to dogs and cats through its pet food banks,” said Diane Waters, outreach specialist for the BC SPCA.

This year staff said they have provided just over 648,000 meals and the year isn’t over yet.

“We cannot keep up with demand, especially for dry cat food and dry dog food,” said Krista Larson, manager of the BC SPCA’s Sea-to-Sky animal centre, one of the busiest pet food banks in the province.

“As soon as the pet food comes in, it gets distributed to the food bank in Pemberton and other communities in need.”

Click to play video: 'Animal Food Bank in need of donations for Wildfire relief'
Animal Food Bank in need of donations for Wildfire relief

The BC SPCA currently has 36 animal centres that distribute pet food and supplies to anyone who needs them and 150 organizational partners across the province, including social housing spaces, municipal food banks and other non-profits.

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“Unfortunately, this year we had to say ‘no’ to more than 15 requests from new [KB1] agencies looking to partner with us,” Waters said. “We just didn’t have enough pet food to expand any further.”

One of the BC SPCA’s long-standing pet food bank partners is the Williams Lake Salvation Army and it’s seen the community particularly hard hit.

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“Inflation has hit the people we serve hard, especially those who are struggling financially,” said Tamara Robinson, the Salvation Army’s director of family services and community outreach.

“The people who seek our services at the food bank have to make tough decisions daily whether to pay rent, bills or put food on the table. The pet food the BC SPCA provides us means these families do not have to factor feeding their pets into this decision.”

Click to play video: 'High demand for pet food banks'
High demand for pet food banks

Robinson said pets are valued members of families, and no one should have to rehome a loving companion due to the rising cost of living.

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Waters said the BC SPCA welcomes donations of unopened pet food for community food banks. “Our biggest need right now is dry and wet cat food and cat litter.”

The BC SPCA is also looking for volunteers to assist with the collection and distribution of pet food and supplies

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