Tayside and Central Scotland

Food bank aid highlights plight of pet poverty

Andrew Dryden and Ebi
Image caption Andrew Dryden said he would struggle to feed Ebi without help from the food bank

Andrew Dryden's dog Ebi tucks into a meal, but it is not from a pet shop or supermarket - it's from the Dundee food bank.

Andrew, 40, says the rescue dog, who he has had for more than two years, "means the world" to him, but that he would struggle to feed her without the charity's help.

He was referred to the food bank after his benefits were sanctioned and was surprised to discover that they could offer food for Ebi as well as himself.

Andrew, who lives alone in a flat close to the city's football grounds, said: "The main worry is how to feed the dog, she'll come first before me.

"When I heard the food bank would help out with food as well, it was a weight off, another relief.

"I don't know where I would be if I didn't have her kicking about.

"She'll eat you out of house and home, but she's a good wee pal."

Image caption Dundee food bank receives supplies from local organisations including veterinary practices

The use of food banks in Scotland has risen by 20% in the last year, according to the Trussell Trust charity, which runs the Dundee food bank.

A dedicated pet food bank currently operates from Cumbernauld, covering central Scotland including Glasgow and Stirling.

But the majority of food banks also provide supplies for pet owners.

The Trussell Trust said that it does not hold national data of how many animals it helps feed.

However, a sample of Scottish food banks contacted by BBC Scotland said that they all offered pet food.

Image caption Ken Linton said many people were unaware the Dundee food bank

Dundee food bank manager Ken Linton said that about 25% of clients collecting supplies for themselves also pick up food for their pets.

He said some of their clients' pets are their only companions.

He said: "Particularly for those who maybe don't have any other family, they're alone or within the city.

"That pet is their company and a very, very important part of their life.

"On a number of occasions they'll feed their pet before they feed themselves.

"What we want to is give them the dignity and respect they deserve to get food for themselves and pet food for their animal."

Image caption Irene Brown said some cat owners are reluctant to admit they struggle to feed their pets

Dundee Cats Protection is one of the local organisations which donates to the local food bank.

The centre's co-ordinator Irene Brown said: "It is quite an issue and a lot of people are very proud and don't like to admit that they're having problems feeding their animals.

"We've actually come across this regularly.

"Sometimes people have more than one cat, it can go up as far as five or six.

"It's OK in the time you are in employment, feeding is very easy.

"But then that might come to an end and the feeding and finding food for the cat is more difficult."

High demand

Mr Linton said that although demand for pet food from their clients is high, they only occasionally run out of dog and cat food.

He said: "Our telephonists now ask the referrers if our clients do have a pet or not.

"A lot of the people who do donate generously to the food bank are not aware that we do deal in pet food.

"It's good to be able to raise awareness on that side of things."

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