Edinburgh Dog and Cat home 'critically low' on food for rescued pets

Hard up Edinburgh owners are having to give up their cats or dogs because they cannot afford to feed them, rescuers have warned.

And even the work of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is under threat as donations of pet food are dwindling during the cost-of-living crisis.

Edinburgh Live went to the rescue centre and spoke to Jamie Simpson, Director of people and services. He highlighted the issue of dwindling donations.

The centre costs £3,000,000 to run each year and they gave out 670,000 food packs in 2023. By April 2024 they had already given 250,000 packs. Jamie says: "We will 100% surpass what we gave out last year".

He talks about how the pet food bank came about. He says: "We started our pet food banks in 2019 and obviously didn't know there was a pandemic right around the corner. We offer 'Paws and Claws' which is our dog and cat food packs. That is when people can come in and pick up cat or dog food and we also offer leads, beds, toys, anything they need."

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He continues: "We realised in 2020 off the back of the pandemic particularly that even if you were coming here to pick up the packs, and struggling financially, you may not be driving and struggle to carry lots of food that may be heavy. So we reached out to local food banks and said 'Look you provide human food, do some people that use your services need pet food too?' and overnight I think it was 14 food banks that said yes please."

He adds: "We now work with over 87 food banks in the southeast of Scotland. It's a huge operation, that is providing food for between 4,000 and 5,000 pets, it varies from month to month."

"In the last 12 months what we've seen is demand has gone through the roof, but our supply is starting to go down. So we are critically low on supplies at the moment."

The centre works with many charities. Jamie says: "We work with Trussell Trust, Edinburgh Food Project and the Salvation Army. We even have our donation stations across Edinburgh. People can donate food here or across the donation stations or even purchase items on our Amazon wish list."

He says that every bit of the donations goes to support local pet owners in the community who are struggling, and this keeps pets in loving homes which is what they need.

He adds: "We support at least 4,000 pets and if even one per cent of them came in this month, we'd be full and we would have to close our doors. The pet food bank has really helped with preventing that. "

The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home at capacity, can house 35 cats at an absolute maximum and up to 80 dogs. Jamie says they are very close to that number of dogs. All adoptions are now online, with initial rehoming enquiries submitted before you are invited to meet the cat or dog.

Jamie says: "We are not far off that with dogs, and have been close to capacity for a while now."

The centre has three stores, one for dry food, one for wet food and the third is their overflow unit. Their third unit is very scarce. He says: "You used to have to snake around everything in here. Now there is barely anything."

One volunteer said it was unfortunate that people going to food banks were getting an allocation of how many items they could get and having to sacrifice some of them. She says: "They're sacrificing their own stuff to give a meal to their pet, like tuna for the cat or chicken for the dog."

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home has been very clear with the food banks they have partnered with - the pet food is for free. The pet food does not come out of the allocation of their own food.

The food stores may look relatively full, but this will only last them for a few weeks and they are back to empty

To donate to the centre in any way please check here.

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