Organizations Donate Free Food to Help Owners Keep Pets

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

The high cost of living forces many pet owners to consider rehoming their pets.

Photo Credit: Viktorya Telminova /

North America’s spiralling cost of living has everyone scrambling to make ends meet and for pet owners, it’s doubly daunting. Not only are we dealing with sky-rocketing grocery bills but also pet food pricing that sees even those bargain brands creeping seriously north.

So, what to do when Rover is sniffing around an empty bowl and you’re wondering how to fill it? The Toronto-based humane society decided to step up to the challenge several years ago by creating a food bank for pets. Whether your furry companion is a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or a guinea pig… pet owners in need can visit this judgement-free service and leave with a bag of kibble or tins of food that are certain to help fill a hungry pet’s empty tummy.

Like most food banks – including those for humans - this type of offering was originally set up as a temporary means to help people get through a short-term rough patch. While never intended to be a permanent feature at their downtown location, demand for this type of support never dropped off. Today, they can see as many as 60 pet parents – often regulars – stop by each day to pick up free food, supplies and even toys.

This society recognizes that pets are not only important family members but often a lifeline that alleviates loneliness and depression for many. Their goal is to help these individuals keep their pets by eliminating the need for them to have to choose human food over their pet’s food. And for those of us with a much-loved dog or cat, we all know who gets to eat first.

This determination to support pet parents is shared by senior support network Meals on Wheels who have added pet food and supplies such as kitty litter to their delivery service. In operation for almost 70 years, the organization recognizes that approximately 25% of seniors in the United States live alone and their pet can be a tremendous source of companionship and comfort. What their delivery personnel were witnessing was seniors who would immediately share the meal with their pet, to ensure it had something to eat. Springing into action, they now work with PetSmart Charities to include pet food and supplies in their offering.

Back in Toronto, humane society staff confirmed that in 2022 they provided almost 57,000 pounds of pet food. Already in 2023, that amount had risen to over 112,000 pounds.

So, while the need for assistance is growing both north and south of the border, clearly organizations are recognizing how important the pet-human relationship is to our emotional health. For that reason, efforts are being made to help those who need it most from both an emotional and financial standpoint.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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