An increase in demand and an early start to B.C.’s wildfire season has the BC SPCA struggling to stock their pet food banks. In 2022, the BC SPCA provided 532,000 meals through pet food banks.
“When guardians and their pets are evacuated due to a natural disaster like wildfires or floods, they can be away from their homes for weeks at a time,” says Diane Waters, the BC SPCA’s outreach specialist. “They often rely on the BC SPCA’s pet food banks for food and supplies until they are allowed to return.”
Waters adds that when some residents of Fort St. John were evacuated last week, along with BC SPCA staff and animals in their care, supplies were diverted to the area to assist guardians who were displaced. This is on top of an increase in demand across the province in the last four months, especially for those on a fixed-income.
“The number of organizations we are currently supporting has risen from 139 to 155,” says Waters. “We are constantly getting requests for pet food and supplies.”
One of the communities that has seen a surge in demand is Victoria. “Since 2022, we have seen an over 25 per cent increase in demand for the pet food bank program,” says Breanne Beckett, senior manager, animal care services, Victoria area. “The current food security landscape in our community and rising costs of living have had an impact. The BC SPCA’s efforts to increase awareness of the program have also meant more people are reaching out for help.”
One of the BC SPCA’s new partnerships in the lower mainland is the Broadway Youth Resource Centre located in Vancouver where they’ve been keeping the pet pantry stocked.
The partnership has highlighted the strength of the human-animal bond and what people will sacrifice to care for their pets. “Through our partnership with the BC SPCA, I have come to realize the immense love that the youth who come to our centre have for their pets, and the substantial portion of their income they dedicate to providing for them,” says Luke Guilbault, resource room youth worker, Broadway Youth Resource Centre. “I have had discussions with young people who often go hungry so they can feed their pets who are very often their best friends. The positive impact of this program on our youth and their animal companions cannot be overstated.”
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.
Following increased demand for outreach services, Norm, and Paddy MacSween in memory of Susan MacSween have generously agreed to match all donations up to $10,000.