You may have seen a pet or animal food bank in your community. Why are we needed?
Food banks work to address the problems of food insecurity. Traditional (human) food banks exist to help ensure low-income people have access to food – a basic necessity of life. But did you know that human food banks are not funded nor mandated to provide pet food? As a result, without a pet or animal food bank in the community, people are forced to choose between feeding themselves or their pets, or surrendering their pets.
Access to food is a human right. Access to pet food is not a right, for the human or the pet. Food insecurity will continue to exist as long as poverty does. Pet ownership should not just be for the rich. There are too many pets who need loving homes, and too many homes that would love them but can’t afford them. The thinking, and policies, need to change.
According to Food Banks Canada, in 2021, food banks saw 1.3 million visits each month. There are misconceptions about who uses a food bank – namely that they are lazy and unemployed. In fact, many people accessing food banks have one or more jobs. Lack of affordable housing, low and stagnant wages, and most recently record high inflation is driving more people to use food banks.
Now, what if these same people have pets? In a recent poll of our clients, over 65% of respondents said our Animal Food Bank has prevented them from having to choose between feeding themselves or their pets, and a staggering 55% of respondents said our services have prevented them from having to surrender their pets. Without organizations like ours, and other similar organizations around the world, these pet guardians would not have consistent access to pet food and resources for their pets.
Pet and Animal Food Banks help communities. They do it through ensuring people get to keep their pets healthy and happy. Also, they help eliminating the possibility of people surrendering their pet and the resulting strain on the pet, people, shelters and rescues.
Alleviates stress from human food banks
The Animal Food Bank has a goal of growing globally to ensure pets and their owners all over Canada, and the world, never are hungry.
Animal food banks are usually non-profits that operate with the help of volunteers. This is why community support is essential for them to operate.
As long as animal food banks are part of society, they will alleviate the stress from human food banks, shelters and rescues. This will allow human food banks to focus on feeding their priority – humans. And rescues and shelters to focus on unwanted pets.
Keeping pets with their owners
If all communities had access to an animal food bank, more pet guardians would be able to keep their pets. When it comes to food insecurity, ultimately a pet owner will have to give up their pet if they cannot keep it fed.
The Animal Food Bank wants to fill all the gaps to ensure nobody has to give up their beloved furry friend.
In order to do this, the Animal Food Bank teams up with existing organizations to make sure all pets are taken care of.
In addition to this, the Animal Food Bank works to share knowledge in an effort to end the stigma surrounding pet ownership. People and pets belong together so it is important that organizations work to prioritize that.
Education and collaboration
Sharing knowledge and first-hand experiences with the community helps people put aside their preconceived notions that some people don’t deserve their pets because they are struggling to feed them. Pets deserve help no matter their guardians financial circumstances. The alternative, to not providing support in the form of pet food, is surrender and that is not a solution at all.
The Animal Food Bank advocates for education, bylaws and policies that recognize and support the bonds between a person and their animal companion stronger. Pets are barriers to some social services for both the homeless and those who are living with no to low incomes.
The Animal Food Bank is working with other animal and social service agencies to change that. If animal organizations, pet owners, landlords, veterinarians, rescues, social services and policy makers can work together, pets and their owners can continue to live life safely and securely – making the community they live in a better place.
Improving the quality of life for pet owners
Animal food bank organizations help animals have more stable and consistent lives, but they also greatly improve the life of the animal owners who use their services, and reduce the strain on other social services.
Aside from keeping an animal properly fed, owners have to also worry about veterinarian bills, exercise needs, training and more.
By eliminating food insecurity for one’s pet, this allows owners to focus on these other important factors. Pet owners who are experiencing uncertainty in their lives can focus more on themselves and their challenges if their pet is fed and happy.
Its proven true that people who own pets will often take better care of themselves to ensure their pet is living a fulfilling life.
Animal food banks help communities by improving the quality of life of pet owners.
They alleviate the stress from other organizations and services, provide education, and end the stigma surrounding pet ownership among different demographics.
But most importantly, animal food banks keep pet owners with their beloved pets.