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Soaring demand has BC SPCA food banks bearing the brunt

Additional programs and services have been created to help, but public support is still needed
Victoria Olynik of the Shuswap SPCA pet food bank, ready to make deliveries. (BC SPCA/Contributed to Black Press Media)

An increase in demand has left the BC SPCA struggling to stock their food banks, and an early start to the province’s wildfire season has only made matters worse.

According to the animal welfare group’s outreach specialist, Diane Waters, the number of organizations being supported is at 155 – up from 139.

“We are constantly getting requests for pet food and supplies,” she said in an update Friday (May 26).

When some Fort St. John residents, including BC SPCA staff and animals, were forced to evacuate last week due to wildfires, supplies were diverted to assist those who had been displaced.

“When guardians and their pets are evacuated due to a natural disaster like wildfires or floods, they can be away from their homes for weeks at a time,” Waters said. “They often rely on the BC SPCA’s pet food banks for food and supplies until they are allowed to return.”

Over the past four months, the demand for help from the BC SPCA has increased significantly, especially in Victoria.

“Since 2022, we have seen an over 25 per cent increase in demand for the pet food bank program,” said Breanne Beckett, senior manager of animal care services in Victoria. “The current food security landscape in our community and rising costs of living have had an impact.”

The BC SPCA said that a new partnership in Vancouver with the Broadway Youth Resource Centre has been a huge help in keeping the pet food bank stocked.

“Through our partnership with the BC SPCA, I have come to realize the immense love that the youth who come to our centre have for their pets,” said Luke Guilbault, resource room youth worker.

“I have had discussions with young people who often go hungry so they can feed their pets who are very often their best friends. The positive impact of this program on our youth and their animal companions cannot be overstated.”

The biggest need at animal food banks is dry and wet cat food and cat litter. The organization is also looking for volunteer and foster families.

In 2022, the BC SPCA provided 532,000 meals through pet food banks.

READ MORE: Abbotsford SPCA in ‘desperate need’ of more foster families to care for animals