Animal bosses are to hand out pet food to people struggling to find enough money to feed their cats and dogs.

Staff at the RSPCA centre in Patcham have been contacted several times in recent weeks by people forced to hand over their pets because they are having financial problems.

Now they are offering to help provide pet food for those who have suffered from changes to their benefits or who have recently lost their jobs.

They are also asking anyone who can donate animal food to the centre to contact them to try to prevent them running out of supplies.

Cheryl Wood from the RSPCA said: “It is a short-term offer for those who suddenly find themselves in crisis and are struggling to feed their animals.

“It may be those who have been caught up in the changes to the benefits system or those who have recently been made redundant and they haven’t managed to sort out their benefits yet.

“The idea is to give a temporary boost to people who are really struggling.

'Distressing position'

“Pets are obviously very important to people and having to give them up because they suddenly can’t afford to feed them is obviously a distressing position to be in.

“Many often feed their pets before themselves and end up going hungry.

“This way we may be able to help people keep their pets during a particularly difficult time until they manage to get back on their feet.

“We will try to be as flexible as possible and review the situation on a weekly basis. Each case will be assessed individually.”

The centre has been in talks with local organisations Brighton and Hove City Mission and the Gateway Centre, who will refer people who may need the extra help.

However, people can also contact the RSPCA directly.

For more details call 01273 554218.

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