There has been a spike in people giving up their pets as they can no longer afford to feed them, says The Emma Animal Rescue Society (Tears), which has launched pet-food drive for the poor.
Food insecurity is the leading cause of people surrendering their pets, according to Tears marketing coordinator Odette Visser.
“The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on low-income communities means that many are not able to provide for their pets as they once were. People and families living on or near the breadline are struggling to come up with the funds to simply feed their pets let alone themselves,” she said.
According to Ms Visser, Tears is operating at full capacity with 250 animals in their care, with extensive waiting lists for more animals needing admission.
“With a full shelter, we are placing dogs and cats on waiting lists and trying to supply pet food parcels in the meantime,” Ms Visser said.
By giving parcels of pet food to community pet owners in its Feed Hungry Pets campaign, Tears hopes to help keep pets in homes.
“Support for the Feed Hungry Pets campaign will help us be able to purchase pet food at a cheaper rate and increase the amount of food that is distributed,” Ms Visser said.
Ingrid de Storie, who helps domestic animals in Ocean View, collects and cares for the animals at her house with support from Tears, but she is finding it hard to feed all of them.
“I feel like crying because I do not have food for these animals,” she said.
“I walk the streets day and night looking for dogs and cats in need of help and go from door to door to feed them.
“Tears does not have the capacity to take in any animals at the moment, and there are so many families here who can’t feed their pets,” she said, adding that many Ocean View families did not even have food for themselves.
“I had a lady come to me this week who said their dogs have not eaten in days. When I arrived, these dogs couldn’t breathe, they were starving.”
Ms De Storie is urging anyone who can, to support the Feed Hungry Pets campaign.
Visit tears.org.za to make a donation.