Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Aussies skipping meals to feed pets

Pet owners living in food insecure households are resorting to self-sacrifice to protect the welfare of their pets.

According to a report published today by Foodbank Australia to mark National Pets Day, 24% of respondents skip meals so their pets can eat.

Despite continued cost-of-living pressures, surrendering pets is an absolute last resort with 14% of surveyed pet owners in food insecure households giving up a pet during the previous 12 months. This is twice the national average for Australian households (7%).

The report, supported by Mars Petcare Australia, reveals that half (56%) of the food insecure households in the past 12 months own a pet, higher than the Australian average (48%).

According to survey respondents, pets play a crucial role in their lives. They offer companionship, emotional support, increased social interaction and a sense of security and purpose – all of which can be otherwise challenging for those doing it tough.

“Many families facing food insecurity struggle to provide proper nutrition for themselves, let alone their pets, which can lead to significant health and wellbeing consequences for pet owners as well as their pets,” says Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey.

“We have heard previously that parents skip meals in order to ensure their children can eat, but we’re now hearing this sacrifice extends to the welfare of pets, who are very much-loved family members.”

In 2023, Foodbank provided over 430,000 kilograms of pet food, valued at over $6 million, thanks to food industry partners such as Mars Petcare.

The research, however, reveals that only 9% of pet owners from food insecure households are aware that pet food is available as a part of food relief services.

“This figure is staggering and shouldn’t be happening,” says Ms Casey.

“We want people to know if they are doing it tough, if they have pets, we can help them and their pets. Head to the Find Food button on our website to find a service near you that can assist.”

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