Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank calls for Oxfordshire schemes

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FAMILIES will have to choose between feeding their children or their pets due to the cost of living crisis, a pet food bank has warned.

Bonnie Cowdrey co-created the Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank in June 2020, and says that unless similar initiatives are set up across the county, the problem will only get worse.

Mrs Cowdrey, 63, said the demand for the pet food bank has increased over the last two months.

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She said: “One of our problems is I’m getting calls from people all over, in Oxford and from further afield.

“If there were more pet banks, that would resolve the issue.

“I’d say the last month or two have been quite difficult – whether Easter and the bank holidays made a difference donation wise, I’m not sure.

“What worries me is that we’re getting calls from further afield now, and more calls from people who hadn’t heard about us.”

Oxford Mail: Bonnie Cowdrey (centre) with donations for the Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank, upon its launch in June 2020. Picture: Ed NixBonnie Cowdrey (centre) with donations for the Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank, upon its launch in June 2020. Picture: Ed Nix

Mrs Cowdrey added that soon, families will be faced with challenging decisions to make regarding their pets.

She said: “Things are getting out of control, with the cost of living and whether some families will have to choose between feeding their children or their pets.

“Families will obviously be choosing their children, but that’s a horrible decision to have to make, explaining to the children that you can’t keep the dog because you can’t afford to feed it.

“People have huge increases in fuel and electricity bills.

“Recently, I’ve had half a dozen people with cats get in touch, just to help feed them, and cats aren’t too expensive to feed, which is concerning.”

Oxford Mail: Bonnie Cowdrey (centre) with donations for the Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank, upon its launch in June 2020. Picture: Ed NixBonnie Cowdrey (centre) with donations for the Chipping Norton Pet Food Bank, upon its launch in June 2020. Picture: Ed Nix

In addition to a pet supplies bank in Banbury, Mrs Cowdrey believes the two of them are the only independent services supplying pet food to those in need.

“I’d say overall we’ve got 25 people on a regular basis that we’re providing for, and that I can comfortably deal with, but I’m going to have to go out and get more businesses involved,” she said.

“The biggest concern is that if it is just Banbury and ourselves, we can’t provide for the whole county.”

Mrs Cowdrey highlighted the ease with which anyone looking to create a pet food bank can do so.

“Once you get the idea, you need one or two people to commit to doing it, and go to local supermarkets that sell pet food, and pet stores, to ask if they can have a collection point,” she said.

“You can then advertise it, and from there, you can pick up and deliver.

“It’s got to be as easy as possible for people to drop food off though.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice

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