The high cost of living continues to have an impact on both people and their pets. The BC SPCA’s pet food banks have seen a more than 20% increase in the number of meals they have provided in 2023 compared to the same time last year.
“In 2022, the BC SPCA provided 532,000 meals to dogs and cats through its pet food banks,” says Diane Waters, outreach specialist for the BC SPCA. “This year we have provided just over 648,000 and we still have a couple of weeks to go.”
“We cannot keep up with demand, especially for dry cat food and dry dog food,” says Krista Larson, manager of the BC SPCA’s Sea-to-Sky animal centre, one of the busiest pet food banks in the province. “As soon as the pet food comes in it gets distributed to the food bank in Pemberton and other communities in need.”
The BC SPCA currently has 36 animal centres who distribute pet food and supplies to anyone who needs them and 150 organizational partners across the province, including social housing spaces, municipal food banks and other non-profits. “Unfortunately, this year we had to say ‘no’ to more than 15 requests from new agencies looking to partner with us,” says Waters. “We just didn’t have enough pet food to expand any further.”
One of the BC SPCA’s long-standing pet food bank partners is the Willliams Lake Salvation Army. “Inflation has hit the people we serve hard, especially those who are struggling financially,” says Tamara Robinson the Salvation Army’s director of family services & community outreach. “The people who seek our services at the food bank have to make tough decisions daily whether to pay rent, bills or put food on the table. The pet food the BC SPCA provides us means these families do not have to factor feeding their pets into this decision.” Robinson adds that pets are a valued member of our families, and are important to our mental, physical and emotional health. “No one should have to rehome their loving companion due to the rising cost of living.”
The economy is one of the main factors for the increase in demand but the wildfires that kept burning into September throughout the province also hit the BC SPCA’s pet food bank hard. “Part of our emergency response is to make sure wildfire affected areas have adequate pet food and supplies for those who have been evacuated from their homes,” says Waters. “Some of these affected families were out of their homes for weeks and sadly, some had no homes to return to.”
Waters says the BC SPCA welcomes donations of unopened pet food for community food banks. “Our biggest need right now is dry and wet cat food and cat litter.”
The BC SPCA is also looking for volunteers to assist with the collection and distribution of pet food and supplies