‘Ruff Times’ project gives food parcels to pet pooches


​FOODBANK-style parcels are being created for pet pooches as part of an innovative project to help our four-legged friends.

The scheme known as ‘Ruff Times’ has been set up by Durham Constabulary Sergeant Dave Clarke in partnership with animal charity Stray Aid.

The idea behind the initiative is to hand out the parcels to support those who are struggling to feed themselves and their beloved pets.

“People who use food banks are struggling to pay for the basics, so if they can’t feed themselves then how can they be expected to pay for food for their pets?” said Sgt Clarke, who is working on the project in his spare time. “These can be people who have had the dogs for many years but now find they can’t afford to keep them.”

Sgt Clarke hopes the initiative will help prevent dogs being taken to Stray Aid or left abandoned on the street. He also believes Ruff Times could have a positive impact on shop theft figures.

He added: “I know people who have stolen food because they have spent all of their money on their dog. If we stop this happening that reduces the demand on the police and prevents someone from getting a criminal record.”

Sgt Clarke, who is based at Stanley, said it would also provide an opportunity for people requiring the pooch parcels to access additional support.

“When they are visiting to collect the food parcels it may open up a whole host of support channels they didn’t know existed,” he said.

Sgt Clarke is a volunteer director at Coxhoe based Stray Aid and got his own family pet, a collie called Banjo, from there five years ago.

The parcels are made up of food from the charity which is deemed unsuitable for the residents and would otherwise have to be disposed of.

Currently about 100 boxes have been made up, with each one able to sustain a medium-sized dog for two weeks.

Sgt Clarke said: “No-one wants to see a loved family pet come in to Stray Aid – it’s so sad when that happens. If we can help stop that from happening it’s a win-win from the charity’s point of view.

“For anyone thinking about getting a pet dog then I would urge them to visit Stray Aid before buying a puppy.”

The parcels are currently available from PACT House in Stanley, but Sgt Clarke said depending on the success of the scheme it could be rolled out further.
He said the project will be monitored to ensure people do not abuse the parcel scheme.

For more information about Stray Aid visit: www.strayaid.org.uk