Animal sanctuaries 'turning pets away' with surge of owners giving up pets as cost of living rises

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Animal welfare charities across our region say they've seen a huge spike in the number of people struggling to afford to keep pets.

The cost of living crisis has seen a rise in demand for pet food banks, and more owners are giving up their pets altogether.

Blue cross has a network of food banks across the North of England, including in Sheffield, with a new service recently opening in Grimsby to help alleviate some of the strain faced by pet owners.

The charity is already seeing an influx from vulnerable community members, with Sheffield's January to March figures demonstrating a stark contrast to 2021.

Demand for dry dog food was up 105%, wet cat food has experienced a 297% increase, with demand for dry dog food up 717%.

Thornberry Animal Sanctuary is having to turn some pets away due to demand Credit: ITV Calendar

Since opening its pet food bank in Grimsby as part of a pilot scheme in January this year, Blue Cross says demand has been high, with currently around 25 families each week using the service.

Hospital lead, Ryan Rouse, says: "Local businesses and other people in the local community have really supported with the pilot scheme.

"And it's grown bigger than what we could have anticipated in such a short period of time, so we are officially launching on the 22nd of June."

But he admits he didn't anticipate how emotional it would become for him and the team: "I remember the first person who came in for the food bank, there were some tears amongst the team.

"Just that this is something that we can really make a difference."

Thornberry Animal Sanctuary in Sheffield has experienced a huge increase in the number of pets being dropped off.

Helen Connolly has worked at the sanctuary for five years, she says: "Things are incredibly difficult at the moment, we're having to turn animals away, which is the last thing that we want to do at Thornberry.

"In my five years here, I've never seen it as busy with people handing over animals into our care."