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Dogs Trust Writes To Chancellor Of Exchequer To Ask Government To Support Struggling Pet Owners
27th April, 2023 09h53
Dogs Trust, the UK’s leading dog welfare charity, has today written to Chancellor of the Exchequer to once again call for greater support for owners struggling to meet the needs of their pets, and to help reduce the high demand on services being faced by the animal welfare sector.
The letter to Jeremy Hunt MP has been co-signed by the RSPCA, Cats Protection, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, PDSA, Pet Industry Federation and Local Government Animal Welfare Group.
The seven organisations are specifically asking the Treasury to provide urgent, targeted support for pet owners by temporarily removing VAT on veterinary services, including medicines, and pet food. At the end of 2022, Dogs Trust launched its 'Paws the VAT' petition, and so far over 105,000 people have signed it.
Dogs Trust is receiving record high numbers of enquiries from owners asking to hand over their dogs to the charity. It has already received over 15,000 handover enquiries so far in 2023, on top of the record-breaking 50,000 handover enquiries in 2022.
In response, Dogs Trust is doing all it can to keep dogs at home with the people who love them. It has set up dog food banks at some of its rehoming centres across the UK, which are open to anybody having trouble stretching to a canine mouth to feed. The charity is also offering a discounted rate on its Dog School training classes, to help owners who might be experiencing behavioural problems.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, says:
“We were disappointed that the Chancellor has so far not offered any support to struggling pet owners. Meanwhile, the animal welfare sector is busier than ever, supporting struggling owners to care for their pets, or offering space in our rehoming centres when owners are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their beloved animals.
“Over 105,000 people have signed our petition, echoing our call to pause VAT on vet services, including medicines, and pet food. We call again on the Government to play its part in supporting pet owners. Dogs Trust is here to support dog owners, andwe urge anyone struggling to care for their dog to contact us before they reach crisis point."
Joint letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer
We are writing to you as seven of the leading animal welfare charities and organisations in the United Kingdom to express our disappointment that urgently needed support for pet owners was not included in the Spring Budget and to highlight the ongoing pressures many owners are facing.
As a pet owner yourself you will be aware of the vital role pets play in families, however the situation facing many pet owners is bleak. Costs related to owning a pet including food and veterinary services have substantially increased as a result of inflation, compounded by the rising costs in all aspects of our lives.
As the cost-of-living pressures increase, we are seeing more and more people in the UK forced to turn to food banks to feed themselves and their families. This includes pet-owning families, where many are agonisingly being forced to decide between feeding themselves or their pets. Many of our organisations have been supporting local food banks to help pets directly in our communities, as there is a real current need.
Research by the RSPCA found that 19% of pet owners were worried about affording to feed their pet and 28% worried about being able to properly care for their pet. A Dogs Trust survey found 43% of the public saying they would welcome reduced costs for pet food.
Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have partnered with Fareshare, the UK’s largest surplus food redistributor, Mars Petcare, Pets at Home, Lily’s Kitchen and UK Pet Food to form the National Pet Food Partnership; providing targeted support for pet owners by distributing pet food to a network of foodbanks across the country. By working together, we can try and keep as many much-loved pets with their families as possible and prevent charity sector shelters from becoming overwhelmed.
This support alone is not enough.
There is a real threat to animal rescue charities of a wave of impending animal relinquishment, with less homes available for the waiting animals affected. As cost-of-living pressures deepen, we urgently need Government support to ensure that pets can stay with loving families where they belong. From research by Dogs Trust, 77% told us that they have seen the cost of pet food rise, with 43% saying the same for veterinary care. Most worryingly of all, 10% have delayed seeking veterinary treatment due to the cost.
To address these issues head-on, we are therefore, again, calling on the Government to provide urgent, targeted support for pet owners for an initial period of 12-months by removing VAT on veterinary services for pets, including medicines, and removing VAT on pet food.
Removing the 20% VAT on pet food and veterinary services costs could be critical to many pet owners at a time when interest rates as well as costs for energy, food and fuel have all rapidly increased.
These measures will ensure that more families stay together with their pets, reducing pressure on rehoming centres and providing vital companionship through a time of great hardship for many.
Please ensure that the United Kingdom lives up to its well-earned reputation as a nation of animal lovers by ensuring that more pets are kept within loving families where they belong.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive, Dogs Trust
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive, RSPCA
Peter Laurie, Chief Executive, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Maggie Roberts, Director of Feline Welfare, Cats Protection
Richard Hooker, Director of Veterinary Services, PDSA
Alexandra Baker, Chief Operating Officer, Pet Industry Federation
Marisa Heath, Founder of Local Government Animal Welfare Group
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