Cost of living: Pet food bank launched in Berkshire after rise in animals being abandoned

  • Click on the video to watch the full report by ITV Meridian's Mel Bloor

The UK's cost of living crisis is considered as one of the biggest threats to the welfare of animals.

According to figures from the RSPCA, this year alone there has been a 24% rise in the number of animals being abandoned and the charity says many of its rescue centres are full.

In Crowthorne, Berkshire, a pet food bank has been set up to help owners who can no longer afford to look after their animals.

Berkshire Pet Food Bank launched earlier this month and offers wet and dry food, bedding, and toys amongst other items.

Berkshire Pet Food Bank caters for animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils.

The pet food bank is located at Best Friends Pet Supplies on Crowthorne High Street and is open seven days a week.

Currently, there are five donation points including Denton Vets in Wokingham and Vets4Pets in Bracknell.

Founder Ridwan Sai said: "People are getting to the stage where they either feed themselves or their pets or have to give their pets up.

"Being able to help by just giving some food, it's just one less problem for them to think about and if we can do it then we're happy to help."

Berkshire Pet Food Bank is not operating any means testing, and is run on trust.

It has already been inundated with donations and it is now looking for more volunteers to help collect items from the drop off points.

Mr Sai said: "We've had lots of dog food, lots of cat food and actually people have been fantastic.

"We've also been given rabbit food, harnesses, dog toys, beds, so a whole array of different things that people have given us so now it's time to start giving them out."

A total of 38,087 abandonment reports were made to the RSCPA's cruelty line last year.

The RSPCA fears that a huge rise in pet ownership during the pandemic, coupled with the cost of living crisis putting a strain on people’s finances, means even more animals are being given up this year.

In April 2021 there were around 4,400 internet searches per month around ‘giving up pets’ and in April 2022 this figure rose by 50% to a high of 6,600. 

Head of the inspectorate Dermot Murphy said: “We fear that the cost of living crisis will see more animals being abandoned or given up than ever before. Already we have seen an increase in the number of abandonment reports coming through to our cruelty line this year compared to the previous year.

“We would urge anyone who is struggling to reach out for help and never abandon an animal. We understand that times are tough but there are always other options for anyone who has fallen on hard times and can no longer afford to keep their pet.”

To find out more about Berkshire Pet Food Bank, visit their Facebook page.

To find out more about Oxfordshire's Pet Food Bank click here.

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