WEYMOUTH – Donations to South Shore Pet Food Pantry had dropped significantly in recent months, but co-founder Kristen Clancy said it’s not because people aren’t willing to help and provide donations.
Instead, it’s because some pet foods are getting harder to come by.
“When we put an item up on our wish list, it sells out immediately, and we’re trying to find cost-effective food to purchase,” she said. “We usually have a two-month supply in storage, and right now we have less than a month on hand.”
Shipping woes, other distribution issues and a shortage of the aluminum used for packaging has led to a shortfall of cat and dog food, especially canned wet food.
Clancy said she’s seeing the biggest impact of the shortage with cat food and brands that tend to be the most cost effective. This could force more families to turn to her organization, which distributes pet food through human food pantries.
And while dogs will usually eat just about anything, Clancy said cats are notoriously picky eaters that often will prefer one specific brand or flavor.
“I can’t find (cat food) anywhere else, so I’m ordering on Amazon as soon as it restocks, and you’re paying a premium. You could get 32 cans for $16, and now you’re paying $23 or $24,” she said. “If you’re going through a short-term crisis, that’s a huge difference for some families.”
Clancy said she’s scoping out local stores and figuring out when they need to get their shipments and restock.
“If you go to Target at 4 p.m., the (pet food) shelves are empty,” she said. “It’s like the days of no toilet paper, but now it’s pet food.”
Many grocery stores and big-box stores that carry mainstream brands of pet food are also feeling the pinch, Wegmans supermarkets spokeswoman Marcie Rivera said.
“We are experiencing supply issues with some pet food products,” she said. “Suppliers all around the world are being faced with an array of challenges affecting their businesses, causing a domino effect on retailers and customers. Raw material and labor shortages, as well as transportation constraints, are impacting businesses the most, and it’s expected to last well into next year. While we may not have every variety in stock, we will have options available in every category.”
Maryann Regan, executive director of Scituate Animal Shelter, said they haven’t had any issue keeping dog and cat food in stock, largely because they order in bulk, keep a big stockpile and rely on many sources.
“We are getting issues with the supply chain in general, so we’ve been really proactive about it,” she said.
She said when the shelter does have trouble getting a certain supply, the community always steps up and gets what the shelter needs.
“We constantly have community members dropping off what we need so that we’re good to go, but I do say that cautiously,” she said.
The Pet Food Institute, the national trade association representing many dog and cat food-makers, submitted public comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this summer raising concern with supply chain and manufacturing issues.
“As the entire food system faced incredible disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. pet food-makers were also forced to address new ingredient sourcing and transportation challenges,” Dana Brooks, president and CEO, said in the comments. “America’s dog and cat food-makers responded with resiliency and are hard at work making nutritionally balanced food for our pets, but (the Pet Food Institute) is asking the Biden administration to identify policy solutions that will help further strengthen all of American food and agriculture for the future.”
Material from The MetroWest Daily News was used in this report.