Companion animals are often amongst the hardest hit during tough financial times — with owners unable to provide basic needs. Newly funded pet food assistance programs are here to help.
Humane Canada® recently launched its National Pet Food Bank Program in response to the growing need to support those who are struggling to feed their pets because of financial hardship. “My dog is my child, and I would feel devastated if I couldn’t even provide the basics like shelter and food,” says Kathatina, a concerned pet guardian. Sadly, this is a reality that an increasing number of Canadians are facing today.
To address the issue, Humane Canada started by convening a National Taskforce to develop a framework and strategy, and in 2021, in partnership with donors and funders like PetSmart Charities®, over $80,000 was granted to existing pet food assistance programs across the country. This funding will ensure thousands of companion animals can now stay with their families instead of being surrendered to shelters, or worse, abandoned to an unknown fate.
Historically, pet food banking in Canada has been inconsistently offered by some human food banks, animal welfare groups, and shelters. Moving forward, Humane Canada plans to provide a sustainable national model with an exciting plan to increase the resources available to help people feed their animals and reduce the burden on shelters that frequently see surrender rates increase when financial times are tough.
“Nothing is harder than the desperation and sadness of someone forced to give up a pet when they simply have no financial means to care for them,” says Tara Hellewell, Director of National Engagement at Humane Canada and former Executive Director at Central Alberta Humane Society. “Shelters do their best to support pet owners but it’s really challenging. That’s why a national framework with effective tools to support new and existing pet food banks, is so important. No one should have to choose between feeding themselves or their beloved pet.”
The program has already seen tremendous success in year one with examples of growing partnerships and accessibility to pet food assistance. In Ontario, Lincoln County Humane Society was able to double their grant when Mars, maker of PEDIGREE®, Royal Canin®, and NUTRO™, graciously turned a $3,500 purchase of two skids of food into a much larger 14 skids of food contribution.
“Pets are part of our families and bring so much to our lives — this has never been more evident than throughout this ongoing pandemic,” says Suzanna Dalrymple, General Manager at Mars Pet Nutrition Canada. “That’s why we’re so pleased to support Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) and help those pet parents in need with access to food.”
LCHS has blown past their original goal to provide food to 120 families across Niagara, Ont., and can now help so many more families thanks to this program and partner assistance.
With continued financial support from donors and PetSmart Charities®, the National Pet Food Bank Program is the first of its kind in Canada and includes plans for tools like an interactive national pet food bank map which aims to connect groups and networks across the country to reduce barriers to pet food accessibility in rural, Indigenous, and other communities with little to no access to pet food assistance programs.