‘Struggling to feed their animals’: Rising cost of living has more people surrendering their pets

'Struggling to feed their animals': Rising cost of living has more people surrendering their pets

When a friendly goat named “Tumble” was seized from a rural Nanaimo area farm with dozens of other animals last fall, she was just skin and bones.

But she is getting healthier everyday at the Nanaimo SPCA with her new baby, and animal care workers are seeing their months of hard work to bring her back from the brink pay off.

“She was – a body score, I think of, a one. So we’ve been working quite a lot with our vet,” said Katie Hegle, an animal care worker at the Nanaimo BC SPCA.

They are part of a growing influx of animals coming into this small SPCA branch right now.

“Yes, we are quite busy with these goats and our lovely fosters that have been helping us out,” said Nanaimo BC SPCA animal care worker Odessa Kasprowicz on Thrusday.

“Vet costs, rising vet costs, we are noticing people have been struggling to feed their animals,” said Hegle.

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A goat is pictured at the Nanaimo SPCA branch on Feb. 1, 2024.

Inside the shelter there are rooms of cats and dogs. According to Helgle, the number of animals in need and being surrendered is increasing dramatically as the cost of food and housing grows.

“A lot of housing shortages have been a factor with the animals that we’re bringing in right now,” she said.

According to Nanaimo Animal Control, the number of strays has risen 74 per cent in just a year, up from 279 strays brought in to the Nanaimo Pound in 2022, to 377 in 2023.

Nanaimo’s Loaves and Fishes Food bank is trying to offer pet food to those who need it, as the number of people needing food for themselves climbs across Vancouver Island.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of people accessing our services. Depending on the month, anywhere from 25 to 40 per cent increase,” said Peter Sinclar, executive director of Loaves & Fishes Foodbank.

Some 6,200 pounds of pet food was distributed by the food bank last year, and officials expect that number to grow. So Nanaimo’s SPCA is urging people to reach out for help, instead of letting their animals go hungry or dumping them altogether.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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