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Lib Dems call on food charities to help struggling pet owners

MK Lib Dems proposed a motion at Full Council last night calling on local food charities to help struggling pet owners feed their animals.

This comes as the cost-of-living crisis continues to squeeze household budgets across the city.

As in July, MK Food Bank revealed that 1 in 25 households across the city cannot afford to buy enough food, and every week around 50 more people are contacting them for the very first time.

Sadly, for those households with much-loved family pets, the crisis is leaving pet owners struggling to feed and care for their animals.

The RSPCA reported that as many as 7 in 10 pet owners are worried about the cost of caring for their animals, with a fifth concerned about how they’ll feed them.

Not only are owners concerned about rising costs, but a study from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals revealed that a staggering 770,000 are going without necessities, including skipping meals to ensure they can afford to look after their pets. And around 140,000 pets have been given up for rehoming due to the cost of looking after them.

The Lib Dems are worried about the devastating impact rehoming family pets could have on owners mental and physical health.

Councillor Jane Carr, Cabinet Member for Tackling Social Inequalities proposed the motion asking the City Council to encourage local food organisations such as MK Food Bank and SOFEA to work with animal charities to help struggling pet owners to improve their mental health.

Councillor Jane Carr, said:

“Hard working families across the city have taken a big hit. And for those families with animals, it’s heart-breaking that they’re forced to make the tough decision to give up their family pets. The City Council has spent millions of pounds to help residents with the cost-of-living crisis and to support people with physical and mental health, but we also want to encourage a partnership between local food charities and animal organisations to ensure any surplus or excess pet food can be made available for struggling owners.”

Last year, the City Council gave £100,000 to local food charities and invested £110,000 in local mental health projects to help the city’s residents.

As well as struggling pet owners, animal shelters are also facing rising costs due to the cost-of-living crisis, and with more animals arriving on their doorstep, this is putting even more pressure on an already stretched service.

Councillor Jenni Ferrans who represents Monkston, and is a cat owner herself, said:

“The cost-of-living crisis is wreaking havoc with people’s mental health, they’re anxious, stressed, and for many the financial strain on social activities has led to feelings of isolation. Family pets have been a lifeline for people during the pandemic and now throughout the cost-of-living crisis, not only do they boost mood and keep you active, but they, also bring comfort and reduce feelings of loneliness, and that’s why it’s important for local partners to work together to ensure pets are kept with their owners.”

Earlier this year, the City Council set aside £150,000 to fund new community clubs in Fullers Slade and the Lakes Estate to boost health and well-being and to ease feelings of loneliness.

Wednesday’s Full Council meeting can be viewed on YouTube here.


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