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New Charity Stepping Up To Prevent The Rise In Pets Being Rehomed

Recognising that a growing number of New Zealanders are facing financial hardship and food shortage, a new charity is providing a supporting hand to help make sure animals don’t miss out, or even be re-homed.

Paws of Hope is dedicated solely to providing free emergency pet food for people who are struggling to feed their pets.

In Aotearoa, 64% of households have at least one pet and research shows over three quarters consider their dogs and cats to be cherished family members.

However, the rise in the cost of living over the past few years has seen more and more pets being rehomed or surrendered to shelters already at capacity for a number of reasons including people can no longer afford to feed them as a result of the cost of living. Some of these people are living in emergency housing or even cars.

The Foundation will work alongside food banks and other community providers and has just completed a successful pilot with the Good Works Trust on Auckland’s North Shore and Cambridge Community House. The pilot proved the need and Paws of Hope is now ready to expand.

Paws of Hope founder Nikki Marchant-Ludlow is a highly experienced and compassionate professional with a deep-rooted passion for both people and animals. She has an extensive background in the pet industry, including overseeing animal shelters.

Her lightbulb moment for Paws of Hope came after reading an article that highlighted some pet owners are actually prioritising feeding their pets over themselves, in tough economic times.

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“Food intended for families was being given to pets meaning the family was missing out on meals. This means that families are not getting adequate nutrition and the pets are also getting the wrong nutrition which may have other health implications down the track,” she says.

Following reading the article she set out to find out what we are doing about the issue and saw the gap - the need to offer consistency in supply and quality for pets that need it most.

“We would love to help as many foodbanks and community service providers as possible. If we could consistently supply six foodbanks and community services that provide wrap around services across NZ by October that would be great. We are only limited by donations we receive. We have the potential to reach so many more but with contributions and grants we could help many more,” Marchant-Ludlow says.

“The plan is to provide consistent supply to organisations - with a national reach. We will provide the same high-quality food so that organisations know what they are getting in practical bag sizes that work for people living in cars or places with limited storage.”

“Foodbanks can become a one-stop ‘shop’ if people can tick a box to say they have a pet they can meet all the family needs – this helps both the family and the agency they may be working with,” says Marchant-Ludlow.

“People feel less judged getting support from a foodbank/community service that they may already be working with,” she says.

Cambridge Community House has been extremely grateful to the service Paws of Hope has provided so far. General Manager Byrne says her organisation strives to ease the burden for whānau facing challenges by providing practical-sized bags of quality pet food.

“Recognising the vital role pets play in our lives, we believe that supporting their well-being ensures a stronger, more compassionate community for all. Together, we're not just feeding animals; we're nourishing the bonds that bring comfort and joy during tough times. For some whānau, their pets may be their only company and the reason they get up in the morning,” she says.

There are further plans to expand support. The primary goal is to alleviate the stress and anxiety faced by families during tough times, by making sure beloved pets get the nourishment they need to thrive, preventing them from being abandoned or surrendered due to financial hardship.

Longer term goals include strengthening the bond between pets and their owners by providing support and resources to help them stay together and promoting responsible pet ownership.

To learn more about Paws of Hope go to https://pawsofhope.org.nz/

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