Pets Food

‘Pet Food Bank’ helps Calgarians with rising costs of pet ownership

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Rising costs for pet food, veterinary care and other animal needs have become a struggle for some pet owners in Calgary.

Rosie Taylor said that before the pandemic, food and litter for her two cats would have cost about $60 per month.

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“Now, it’s probably like $130, if I’m lucky,” said Taylor, who has turned to Calgary charity Parachutes for Pets to help foot the bill.

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When faced with a vet bill of nearly $3,000 a couple years ago, Mary Dbrick thought she might have to put down her dog, Daizy.

Parachutes for Pets was able to help with the payment and connect her with a veterinarian to perform surgery.

Now, 13-year-old Daizy is happy and healthy. Dbrick got Daizy when she was about four months old, and over the years she’s become attached.

“She’s my little emotional support, health,” said Dbrick. “If anybody in my area is sniffling, he’ll be right there, you know, ‘pet me, I’ll make you feel better.’ ”

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Dbrick still uses the support at Parachutes for Pets, and will now be able to get Daizy the food she needs — for free — through the charity’s Public Pet Food Bank.

“Everyone in the organization (Parachutes for Pets) has welcomed me,” said Dbrick.

The service provides pet food supplies for those in need.

In October of 2023, PetSmart Charities Canada awarded Parachutes for Pets with a $30,000 grant that allowed them to expand their Public Pet Food Bank.

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Before the PetSmart grant, the food bank was sporadic, relying on donations. The funding has allowed it to operate every second Tuesday from 1 pm to 3 pm There’s no application process, so anyone in need can drop by for pet food.

“This allows us to actually have a situation where our clients can bank on it being every two weeks,” said Melissa David, founder of Parachutes for Pets.

There is also a social worker on site, so if there’s anything else a client needs help with, they can get it.

“Sometimes they need resources for human food, or some direction for housing or government benefits,” said David.

The organization fields about 45 calls a day — up from about 25 a day in 2023 — from pet owners needing help, says David. Along with drop-ins, Parachutes for Pets helps more than 80 pet owners a day.

“Everyone is struggling to some extent — and pet food is, you know, the basic necessity,” she said.

Last year, David says they helped more than 10,000 pets in Calgary and surrounding areas with various needs.

Part of the organization’s mission is to allow owners to keep their pets amid financial barriers, said David.

That includes the food bank, but also other services such as vet care assistance or help with animal training.

“We want to keep pets at home with their families and out of shelters,” David said.

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