We have been helping animal charities, who may have otherwise struggled to keep afloat during the pandemic, by donating thousands of pounds worth of our high-quality dog food. But without pet key workers in retail, the system as a whole could not have kept going and many pet parents may have struggled to get hold of suitable food for their dog.
Thanks to lobbying by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), pet food has been classed as a critical industry, allowing us to continue producing and selling pet food. Employees working in pet shops are classed as essential workers by the Government and have worked hard throughout the crisis to keep dogs fed.
Managing the crisis as a pet food business has been a team effort. At the start of the outbreak, UK pet owners wanted to stock up on food fast. Many were customers with sensitive dogs where Burns is the only food their dog can tolerate. Others were new to Burns, coming to us after failing to purchase their usual food.
Our warehouse and sales teams have been fantastic and worked hard to ensure no one goes without pet food. We’ve had lots of lovely emails from customers thanking the Burns team for their hard work and saying how surprised they were that the food arrived so quickly.
As well as supplying customers, we have been working hard to ensure other vulnerable dogs are fed and animal rescue charities are supported during the Coronavirus crisis.
We have helped South Wales animal charity, Hope Rescue by providing the centre with three-months’ worth of nutrition to see it through the lockdown period. Hope provides care to over 800 dogs a year. It rescues stray and abandoned dogs in in the region who would otherwise be euthanised and supports other local pounds and rescues who are struggling with capacity. However, the financial fall-out from the current Covid-19 crisis put the future of the charity at risk.
Since the start of the UK-wide lockdown, Hope has seen its main sources of income come to a halt, having been forced to close its charity shop, boarding kennels, paddock hire and grooming services, as well as cancel upcoming fundraising events and stop all fostering and adoption activity. As a result, a quarter of its staff have been furloughed and the charity has been left with no revenue, while still having kennels full of dogs that need to be fed and looked after.
To reduce the strain on the charity, we provided Hope Rescue with at least £6,000 worth of our natural dog food over three months. The food will help to keep the charity’s costs down and enable it to continue to feed its residents as it operates on a limited scale throughout the outbreak.
Of course, we already run a Charity of the Year scheme to support animal charities and regularly donates our specialist line of natural pet food to over 40 rescue centres across the UK. One of these centres is Mayhew, which works to improve the lives of dogs, cats and people both in London and internationally by providing ongoing support to pet owners and animals in difficulty.
As well as Mayhew and Hope Rescue, we have donated food to local organisations: Pembrokeshire’s Greenacres Animal Rescue, Cardiff Dogs Home, Powys Animal Welfare, Greyhound Rescue Wales and Powys-based Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, which has dogs in its care. Further afield, we have provided donations to Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue and Adoption (MADRA) in Northern Ireland, West Cork Animal Welfare Group and Alley Cats Burnley and Pendle.
Therapy and service dogs have also received support from us, including Hampshire Search & Rescue Dogs, B.W.Y Canine Ltd – a specialist supplier of detection dogs – and Support Dogs UK, a national charity which provides assistance dogs for individuals with medical conditions including disabilities, autism and epilepsy.
As well as supporting organisations, we are committed to helping communities in Wales who may be struggling to feed their pets following the pandemic. We have supported a number of community groups including the Swansea Council’s Food Bank initiative, Tenby United RFC’s support scheme and the Scarlets Community Foundation – an initiative which sees the Scarlets Rugby club team up with local grassroots clubs to deliver care packages to vulnerable people in the region.
We also provided £10,000 worth of food to ‘Street Paws’ – a registered charity made of up of veterinary volunteers who provide free vet care and food for dogs living with people who are homeless, vulnerably housed or in extreme poverty. Our Burns food packs have since been distributed to vulnerable individuals in 24 towns and cities across the UK including Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and York.
The past few months have been a very difficult period for animal organisations and vulnerable people across the country. The impact of coronavirus has been unprecedented, and the result is that many charities and vital community initiatives have been struggling to cope with the financial obstacles that the outbreak has brought.
By donating food and supporting various animal and community initiatives we have tried to minimise the impact of the pandemic on as many groups as possible, but none of this would have been possible without the army of pet key workers who have proven to be essential during this crisis in keeping pets fed.