An economic crisis in Venezuela is making it hard for pet stores, department stores and grocery stores to keep their shelves stocked with pet food and medicine. This shortage of food is forcing pet owners to stretch their supplies and ration the food they feed their companion animals. Shoppers have been facing long lines and shortages on products like toilet paper and corn flour for a while now, but the economic hardship is beginning to drastically affect the pet food market as well.
The combination of a decaying state-led economic model paired with falling oil prices has left Venezuela, a country involved in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with lasting product shortages. Pet owners are feeling the pinch now that pet food manufacturers have had to slow or stop operations due to the lack of funds to import raw materials like soy and white corn. Even police forces are being required to ration food for their trained K9 officers.
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Homemade pet food isn’t an option for most folks either. Chicken and beef are also in short supply and are much too expensive. Common dry ingredients like grains are in short supply as well. One shopper told a local news station that if she runs out of dog food she’ll begin feeding her pet rice and carrots. It’s not the worst thing to feed a dog, but he certainly won’t have a balanced diet if that’s all that he’s able to eat.
The Venezuelan division of Purina, which is owned by Swiss food giant Nestle, says that they are reducing the variety of the pet food products that they are currently manufacturing in order to maximize their scarce raw materials and continue to supply the market with the much needed products. The company says that their local production has returned to full capacity after the raw materials shortage forced them to slow their output earlier this year.
A union leader for Protinal-Proagrom, the country’s leading producer of chicken feed, announced in a statement that they are producing intermittently at this time due to a lack of raw materials. The shortage of pet food isn’t just affecting pet owners. It’s also making it tough for shelters and rescue organizations to find foster and adoptive families for the animals in their care. Likewise, the number of abandoned pets is steadily growing.
Families that cannot afford to keep their pets are turning them in at shelters or abandoning them in the streets. Many families are also emigrating out of the country and leaving their pets behind. It’s becoming impossible for shelters and rescues to keep up with the growing need.
According to a report that was conducted by the Venezuela government, there are at least 26 personal care items and 15 food items that are in short supply or completely unavailable in the country. The current food shortage is part of the ongoing problem that Nicolás Maduro’s administration has created.
The administration continues to create socioeconomic unrest in the country which once had a booming economy. For example, just last year a dairy shortage caused many Venezuelan ice cream companies to close during the height of their season.
The economic state of the country continues to decline, forcing many pet owners to choose between feeding their pets and feeding their families. Without a major change in the near future more and more pets will continue to be abandoned and more and more shelters will be put out of business. It is possible that some emigrants may take their pets with them, but it is unlikely.