In the midst of a cost of living crisis that has seen more pets being abandoned by their owners, a pet owner from Cardiff, Miari Workman, says she would rather "starve" than give her cats away. The cost of pet care has risen by over 12% in the past year, along with food costs that have risen by 18.2%. Animal welfare charities such as Blue Cross are urging people in need to use their pet food bank, as they see more families struggle to afford the cost of food and medication for their pets.
Ms Workman, who is currently unemployed, said that her two children and five cats are the most important things in her life, and although she sometimes "really struggles with money," she would "rather starve than give [her] cats away." She has been helped tremendously by Blue Cross's pet food bank, especially during times when she had to skip meals to ensure her family and pets were fed. "Sometimes, I'll feed my daughter and go without and make sure I've got food for the cats," she said.
In the last year, the price of pet care, including pet food, has increased by 12.6%, according to the latest consumer price inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics. Many families are giving up their pets for financial reasons, according to Blue Cross. The animal welfare charity, which runs a food bank in Newport, is looking for more foster carers for the animals. Foster carers are given the food and equipment needed to care for the pets, while the charity takes care of any vet bills.
Animal welfare assistant at Blue Cross, Gemma Gregg, 25, said since January the team has helped to rehome 120 pets, with 25 more in the process of being rehomed. "It's so rewarding. It's so lovely to see them get the right care they need when they maybe haven't had that situation before." Georgie Riley, 34, the centre manager, added that she and her staff had noticed more people using their pet food bank. She said that there were currently between 40 and 50 pets waiting to be taken in by the centre or fostered.
"A lot of the time, people are working, and they've just fallen on hard times, and they're finding it difficult to afford pet food," Riley said. "Our concerns are that people are not being able to feed themselves or going without other things because they're trying to feed their pets. Often people will come to us for help with re-homing because they've reached a breaking point." The RSPCA has committed £1.5m of extra funding to crisis measures to help support owners and launched a new cost of living hub to help outline and signpost the help available, while RSPCA branches across Wales are also working with food banks in a bid to help those struggling to afford pet food.
The cost of living crisis has resulted in more pets being abandoned or given up for adoption. In March alone, the RSPCA received 1,517 reports about abandonments, a rise of 6% from the same month last year. The RSPCA said that the cost of living crisis was "the single biggest challenge for animal welfare right now." The charity is committed to keeping pets in loving homes and supporting owners, but they are aware of the growing challenge that the cost of living crisis has posed for pet owners.
Despite the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis, Miari Workman's story of choosing to feed her cats instead of herself has resonated with many. It speaks to the deep connection that people have with their pets, and how they often view them as an essential part of their family. Animal welfare charities such as Blue Cross and the RSPCA are working tirelessly to ensure that pets are not abandoned or given up for adoption, and they are doing everything they can to support owners who are struggling financially.
In addition to offering food banks and fostering programs, animal welfare charities are also calling for more financial support from the government to help families keep their pets during these challenging times. As the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the UK, it is essential that pet owners are given the resources and support they need to keep their beloved pets healthy and well-fed.
The bond between pets and their owners is a special one that should not be broken due to financial hardship. While the cost of pet care has risen in recent years, it is possible to provide pets with the care they need without breaking the bank. Pet owners can take steps such as buying pet food in bulk or searching for discounts online to save money on pet care expenses. Additionally, pet owners can reach out to animal welfare charities for assistance during times of financial hardship.