Pet owners 'would go without food' and animal shelters in crisis due to cost of living

The increasing pressure on household budgets is impacting different families in different ways.

But a new report shows that pet owners are increasingly worried about how they'll continue to afford to feed their animals.

The RSPCA says the cost of living crisis is impacting up to three-quarters of owners, many of whom are concerned about caring for their pets.

Volunteers loading trollies of pet food at Sirhowy Community Centre, near Tredegar

The charity has formed a 'pet food bank' across Wales, joining up with existing services to provide pet food for people in need.

One food share scheme, near Tredegar, says the stock needs to be totally replenished each week.

Brian Irving began visiting the centre after his work and income was affected by the pandemic.

Brian Irving is a regular visitor to the food share scheme

He says without the support, he and his wife would struggle to feed themselves and their dogs adequately.

"It would be a case of do we buy meat or cheese or sausages for ourselves, rather than buy food for the dogs. My wife would go without food to buy food for the pets.

"Everything has gone up. Fuel has gone up. The pet food has made a hell of a difference."

Former RSPCA inspector Darren Oakley, who runs the charity's Wyth Sir Branch, says demand is only expected to rise.

RSPCA branches across Wales have partnered with suppliers and community organisations to offer a pet food service

"We're delivering this amount every week and it is going. It's clearly needed in the community" he explains.

Animal shelters say they too are struggling to meet demand, due to a combination of people giving away unwanted pets after lockdown, and the costs of feeding and caring for an animal.

"The picture now is probably as bad as I've seen it in the eleven years I've been here" says Cardiff Dogs Home manager Maria Bailey.

"Since January we've had hardly any empty kennels. We're running on between three and no empty kennels. And we have a waiting list to get in here, which we've never had before."

Cardiff Dogs Home manager Maria Bailey with Olive

Volunteer Toria Acreman helped found the Rescue Hotel, a charity affiliated with the home that fundraises for care for the dogs.

They too are struggling with the sheer number of dogs that need support.

"Just because you are struggling to afford to keep your dog doesn't mean you're a bad owner" she says.

"As a dogs home, we would rather the dogs stay in their loving homes rather than go through the turmoil of being signed over."