Pet owners who are struggling to afford to feed their dogs can purchase free food, treats and toys from a recently opened dog food bank.
The new service is the brainchild of Andy O’Brien, who runs the K9 Club Natural Dog Store in Little Alne.
Andy started the dog food bank after seeing how many owners struggled with the costs of maintaining their pets.
Sharp rises in electricity bills and food prices in recent months have added pressure on households already struggling due to Covid and Brexit.
Andy said: “Everyone’s bills are rising and many people are struggling to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets.
“I know from my work experience that most people would rather feed their dogs than feed themselves. They will always make sure their dogs eat, but that means they may not be able to feed themselves. allow themselves to eat.
The new dog food bank will also offer mini “enrichment boxes,” which include dog toys and chews.
It will be run as an “honesty” service.
“If you need it, you need it. There is no resource testing, guidance, or voucher system. We will help provide dog food for anyone struggling to feed their dog,” Andy explained.
Andy, who provides most of the food from his own stock, welcomes donations of dry and wet dog food and dog treats which can be dropped off at the K9 store.
He added: “I know that many people in difficulty will use substandard food or start giving their dogs bits of human food on their own plates, which in the long term is detrimental to their dog’s health and they will end up with more and bigger vet bills.
The average cost of feeding a dog ranges from £16 to £33 per month, depending on size and breed, according to the Money Advice Service.
The lockdown has fueled a surge in dog ownership, with the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association estimating there are now 12 million dogs in the UK, a jump of two million from the previous year.
And with National Insurance and council tax set to rise in April, pet charities such as the RSPCA and PDSA are warning that the problem of ‘pet poverty’ could get worse.
Before opening his shop, Andy already ran a dog walking and training business based near his home in Hatton, which he shares with his partner Georgie and baby daughter Harper.
As a former Royal Air Force Police Dog Handler, his career included tours of Afghanistan and the Falklands where he worked with German Shepherds, Spaniels and Labradors used to detecting drugs and explosives.
He also runs a stall at Warwick Market, selling raw dog food and natural products.
The K9 Shop offers dry and wet dog food as well as air-dried “delicacies” such as chicken feet, dried pig ears, antlers and turkey wings.
To find out how to use the food bank or make a donation, see www.facebook.com/K9ClubK9