Inflation hurting pet owners and animal organizations

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 4:16 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2023 at 7:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Inflation may be cooling, but the cost of pet products, services and food continues to increase. According to the latest Consumer Price Index data, pet owners are paying 15% more for pet food than they did a year ago.

Not only is pet inflation a burden for animal owners, but also local organizations tasked with providing a safety net for pets in need.

Cody’s Friends, a pet food pantry in Tucson, has seen a massive spike in demand. Volunteers used to give away five pallets of food a month, now they’re up to 20 pallets a month.

“The need in Tucson is enormous. We have probably the greatest need we’ve seen in 12 years,” said Amber Allen, the director of Cody’s Friends. Allen and 20 volunteers run a weekly pet food distribution in the Flowing Wells neighborhood.

“Now is something we’ve never seen before. The last year, pet food prices have escalated. The need has escalated,” said Allen. “And pet food donations are at an all-time low nationwide.”

To keep up with demand, Cody’s Friends also buys pet food weekly.

In 2020, the non-profit spent $13,000. That number jumped to $33,000 in 2021. Last year Cody’s Friends spent almost $100,000 on pet food. This year, they’re on track to top that, spending close to $35,000 since January.

Douglas Mazitis has six of his own dogs and also cares for neighborhood strays.

“With my own animals, I can only buy so much food a month,” said Mazitis. “So I go to Cody’s Friends and they’ve been helping me with all the food, with blankets, bowls, and anything they needed.”

Allen says economic hardships force people to cut back in ways they shouldn’t have to. “Because people will go hungry before they let their pet suffer,” said Allen.

Drice “D” Apodaca works at Sister Jose Women’s Center, one of about 50 human service agencies that also rely on Cody’s Friends.

“We’re the only shelter that allows women with pets. And it’s true, basically they would feed their dog or cat before they would eat themselves,” said Apodaca.

Keeping families together, and out of shelters that are now euthanizing for space, is what Cody’s Friends is all about.

“That’s Princess, she just got a raincoat. She did not let the owner take it off,” said Apodaca showing images of dogs on her phone.

Pet owners can come to Cody’s Friends twice to receive food, after that they must show proof that their animals are spayed or neutered. If you can’t afford it, Cody’s Friends will help. The organization relies 100% on donations. They have several donation stations around Tucson, where people can donate new and used pet food, toys, and supplies.

You can watch an extended interview with the Director of Cody’s Friends about the impact of inflation on their organization right here: