Social Justice

Pet foodbank launches to help poverty-stricken owners

Pet owners on low incomes can pick up food, bowls, bedding, leads and other supplies from the Edinburgh rescue

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is launching a dedicated foodbank for pet owners who are struggling to make ends meet – and hope the initiative will help keep beloved pets with their families.

Wet and dry food, jackets, collars, leads, bowls and bedding will all be on offer at the pet foodbank, as well as rescue staff who will be on hand to give owners advice on how to look after their pets.

More than one million people in Scotland are living in poverty. Staff at the rescue, which cared for more than 3,000 cats and dogs in 2018, said they see “heartbreaking” evidence of this on a regular basis – many of the animals come from loving homes wrought with problems like money issues, illness, homelessness and domestic abuse.

Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine is deputy to the CEO and director of operations at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. She said: “Our team regularly receive heartbreaking enquiries from members of the public struggling to choose between feeding themselves or their pets.

“The Home takes in hundreds of dogs and cats in need of a second chance however there are times where some of these animals are coming from loving families who can no longer cope with their care.

“We hope by establishing our own dedicated pet foodbank that we can keep some of those much-loved dogs and cats with their loved ones while continuing to support those in need.”

The rescue has been in operation since 1883 and works with local authorities to rescue, reunite and regime lost, stray and abandoned pets across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

From Street Cat Bob to the hundreds of Big Issue vendors whose lives are changed by having a furry companion around, the emotional support of an animal can make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable and at-risk people. Some say having the responsibility of a pet proves to be a vital lifeline for them – and experts reckon that, on average, homeless people actually take better care of their pets than people in housing.

But having a pet can actually be a barrier to homeless people trying to secure a place in a shelter if the service doesn’t allow pets. Many rough sleepers will use the little money they have to feed and care for their animals before they will buy food for themselves – something the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home hope won’t be necessary thanks to services like theirs.

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