PET owners struggling to afford to feed their dogs can pick up free food, treats and toys at a newly opened dog food bank.
K9 Club shop owner Andy O’Brien with customer Kip. Photo: Mark Williamson G5/4/21/7355. (55146132)
The new service is the brainchild of Andy O’Brien, who runs K9 Club Natural Dog Store in Little Alne.
Andy launched the dog food bank after seeing how many owners were finding it difficult to meet the costs of their pets’ upkeep.
Sharp rises in electricity bills and food prices during the past few months have piled pressure on households already struggling as a result of Covid and Brexit.
Andy said: “Everyone’s bills are going up and many people are struggling to choose between feeding themselves or their pets.
“I know through my experience at work that most people would rather feed their dogs than themselves. They’ll always make sure their dogs eat, but that means they might not be able to afford to have a meal themselves.”
The new dog food bank will also offer mini ‘enrichment boxes,’ which include dog toys and chews.
It will be run as an ‘honesty’ service.
“If you need it, you need it. There’s no means-testing, referral or voucher system. We’ll help provide dog food for anyone struggling to feed their dog,” Andy explained.
Andy, who is supplying most of the food from his own stock, welcomes donations of dry and wet dog food and dog treats which can be dropped off at the K9 store.
He added: “I know a lot of people struggling will either use lower quality food or start giving their dogs bits of human food off their own plates, which long-term is detrimental to their dog’s health and they’ll end up with more and bigger vet bills.”
The average cost of feeding a dog varies from £16-£33 a month, depending on size and breed, according to the Money Advice Service.
Lockdown has fueled a spike in the number of dog owners, with the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association estimating there are now 12 million dogs in the UK, a jump of two million compared to the previous year.
And with National Insurance and council tax due to go up in April, pet charities such as the RSPCA and the PDSA are warning that the problem of ‘pet poverty’ could worsen.
Before opening his shop, Andy was already running a dog-walking and training business based near his home in Hatton, which he shares with partner Georgie and toddler daughter Harper.
As a former police dog handler with the Royal Air Force, his career included tours of Afghanistan and the Falklands where he worked with German shepherds, spaniels and Labradors used to sniff-out drugs and explosives.
He also runs a stall at Warwick market, selling raw dog food and natural products.
The K9 shop offers dry and wet dog food plus air-dried ‘delicacies’ such as chicken’s feet, dried pig ears, antlers and turkey wings.
For information on how to use the foodbank, or to donate, see www.facebook.com/K9ClubK9