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Pets feeling the pinch too

It seems like almost every day we hear about a new cost shock; if it’s not petrol, it’s rates; if it’s not the rates, it’s food; if it’s not food, it’s insurance, mortgage interest, or power. The list seems endless. People in business have an extra overlay of worry, with staff needing pay rises – in addition to paying more for supplies, transport and the rest.

For many of us, tightening our belts means fewer takeaways, one less holiday, or postponing a weekend away. Maybe it’s a less generous birthday or Christmas gift, or putting off replacing that ageing appliance. But for thousands of Kiwi families, the choices are starker. It has meant taking two jobs, becoming a regular at the foodbank, or, in the worst-case scenario, going hungry.

The unpalatable fact is that those most impacted are often those with no voice and no choice – children and animals.

Nifo Ili won the Wairarapa Times-Age Volunteer of the Year award last year for services to sport in the region. The award recognised her dedication to the children of Featherston.

Ili has seen first-hand the impact of rising costs on Wairarapa children. She told the Times-Age she knew of as many as three hundred people living at or below the breadline, with at least 50 families struggling. Parents were being forced to take on second jobs, often with antisocial hours, meaning children were left to their own devices.

She has had to go back to work to help pay the bills, meaning alternative care arrangements for her autistic son, who lives at home. Parents were struggling mightily to buy their kids shoes and sports gear, or pay their subs, or travel to sports events. Some families had parents with two jobs each, and they still couldn’t make ends meet.

Now we have come to learn that the Masterton SPCA has had well over 3000 animals through its doors since 2020. A major factor in giving up a pet is often a lack of time or resources to properly look after it. The SPCA centre in Masterton is in need of funds, and in need of help.

The family pet often bears the brunt when hardship strikes at home. Pet food, medical treatment, and even the time it takes to walk a dog or brush a cat can become problematic, and so the animal is surrendered or, worse, abandoned. The sad reality now is that some families face the choice of feeding their pets or feeding their children.

The SPCA has a limit on the number of animals it can take. But there are ways people who want to can make a difference without breaking the bank. The Masterton Centre has appealed for volunteers and fosterers. Fostering a homeless animal can be a very rewarding experience for an individual or a family, and free up a space at the centre for another animal.

Abandoned pets will benefit from being in a home environment, and it can pave the way for an easy transition when they do get adopted. A petless person can have the advantages of pet ownership without making a fulltime commitment. It’s a nice win-win in an increasingly expensive world.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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