A NEW pet food bank is set to open in Ringwood as dog owners ‘continue to go hungry to feed their pets’.

The new ‘Merlin’s Pet Food Bank’ by Dorset Dogs CIC will be the twelfth bank opened by the organisation in 12 months in response to community demand.

The first was opened at Canford Heath Community Fridge in February last year.

Nicky Crowe, founder of Dorset Dogs CIC, said: “We are really proud and thankful for our group and our volunteers and the local businesses who help us.

“We now have Ringwood Pet Food Bank in the works, and we need to focus on fundraising so we can keep this project running to support the huge demand.”

Created to be a safety net for pet owners during the cost-of-living crisis, Merlin’s Pet Food Banks make pet food available in partnership with community fridges, community stores, and other organisations.

Dorset Dogs CIC has a devoted team of volunteer, who collect food from over 30 donation points across BCP and the surrounding areas, before delivering it to the food banks to ensure there is a regular and reliable supply of pet food for those in need.

Salisbury Journal: Merlin’s Pet Food BankMerlin’s Pet Food Bank (Image: Dorset Dogs CIC)

Nicky said: “It's been a full-on year. The cost-of-living crisis has hit people hard; some are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their pets, others have made the tough choice to hand their pet to a rescue as they just cannot meet their needs.

“And the knock-on effect is that the rescues are now full because people aren’t adopting either, so we have started providing food donations to the smaller rescues who struggle for funding.”

Research by the RSPCA found 23 per cent of pet owners were worried about feeding their animals amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Dorset Dogs CIC said this is “not surprising when you consider that the cost of pet food”.

According to The Grocer, pet food prices have soared in supermarkets.

Nestlé’s Go-Cat Adult Chicken & Duck 750g, for example, has climbed 57.5 per cent – from £2 to £3.15 in Asda.

Nicky said: “We wish we could say that there wasn’t a demand, but the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t look like it’s going away and people need our help more than ever."