Social enterprise prepares to open 12th pet food bank in just 12 months

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: February 6, 2024 | Updated: 6th February 2024

A social enterprise is preparing to open its 12th Merlin’s Pet Food Bank in just 12 months in response to community demand.

Dorset Dogs CIC launched its first pet food bank at Canford Heath Community Fridge in February 2023.

It was quickly followed by ten further locations by the end of the year and now Ringwood Pet Food Bank is getting ready to launch.

Created to be a safety net for pet owners during the cost of living crisis, Merlin’s Pet Food Banks make pet food available in partnership with community fridges, community stores, and other organisations.

Supported by food and financial donations from the Dog Friendly Dorset and Hampshire Facebook community, a devoted volunteer team collect food from over 30 donation points.

They’re located across BCP, Hampshire, Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland.

The team then delivers the items to the food banks to ensure there is a regular and reliable supply of pet food for those in need.

Nicky Crowe, Founder of Dorset Dogs CIC, said: “It’s been a full-on year.

“The cost of living crisis has hit people hard; some are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their pets, others have made the tough choice to hand their pet to a rescue as they just cannot meet their needs.

“The knock-on effect is that the rescues are now full because people aren’t adopting either, so we have started providing food donations to the smaller rescues who struggle for funding.

“We wish we could say that there wasn’t a demand, but the cost of living crisis doesn’t look like it’s going away and people need our help more than ever’.

Research by the RSPCA found almost a quarter (23 per cent) of pet owners were worried about feeding their animals amid the cost of living crisis.

In 2023, the Dogs Trust took 45,000 handover enquiries: that’s almost 125 a day from people who can no longer meet their dog’s needs.

The cost of pet food has increased too with pet food prices soaring, according to The Grocer.

Nicky said Dorset Dogs CIC was committed to ensuring Merlin’s Pet Food Bank continue.

She said: “We are really proud and thankful for our group and our volunteers and the local businesses who help us.

“We now have Ringwood Pet Food Bank in the works and we need to focus on fundraising so we can keep this project running to support the huge demand.

“If anyone can help, please do get in touch.”

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