Increased Demand for Pet Pantry Services Highlighted by Humane Society of Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford-Perth (HSKWSP)

by Lisa

On September 26th, Pet Hunger Awareness Day, the Humane Society of Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford-Perth (HSKWSP) sheds light on the rising need for its Pet Pantry program, which acts as a vital resource for individuals unable to afford pet food.

Calla James, the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at HSKWSP, acknowledged the significant uptick in demand for the Pet Pantry program in recent months. Originally initiated during the pandemic through collaborative efforts with local organizations, the program’s necessity persisted beyond the pandemic’s peak, leading to its establishment as a permanent fixture.


James elaborated, “We see people who are coming, not just for a short-term feeding solution, which is what the program is intended to be, but we are seeing people who are needing longer-term solutions because it’s taking them longer to get back on their feet.”


The Humane Society recognizes that many pet owners face the heartbreaking decision to relinquish their pets to shelters due to financial constraints, including the inability to provide food. “Many have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pets,” James noted. She emphasized that, contrary to misconceptions, people often prioritize their pets’ well-being over their own.


Through the Pet Pantry program, the HSKWSP aims to help pet owners keep their animals at home, acknowledging that there are various reasons for pet abandonment. By alleviating the financial burden of pet food, the program allows pet owners to care for themselves as well.


Community members have expressed their gratitude for the program through numerous heartfelt messages, underlining its significance. James shared a recent statistic: “Two weeks ago we saw over 60 people, over 20 of those were brand new to the Pet Pantry. So one-third of clients that day were new, and we fed over 160 pets.”

To meet the surging demand, the HSKWSP organized a successful “Stuff the Truck” fundraiser at their Kitchener location, resulting in a van filled to the brim with pet food. James noted the immediate depletion of dog food, emphasizing the program’s critical role in the community.

James anticipates that the demand for Pet Pantry services will continue to rise, potentially worsening before improving. The Humane Society is projecting a 300 percent increase in pantry usage for this year compared to the previous year, with 2022 alone seeing support provided for over 2,200 pets and 820 families.


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