Millions of people across the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet. Often lost in the shuffle when families scrimp to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads are the beloved household pets. Now, help may be available through an innovative new program offered by a nonprofit based in New York state.
The new program called “Pet Food Stamps” aims to provide free monthly home delivery of pet food and other necessary pet supplies to owners receiving food stamps or who are living below the poverty line. In just a two-week period at the end of February, more than 45,000 pets were signed into the donation-based program, according to Pet Food Stamps's founder and executive director Marc Okon.
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
“I would tell people who are really down on their luck and considering giving up their companion animal we would urge them to take advantage of programs like these (Food Stamps for Pets) so that families don’t have to be broken up this way,” PETA Cruelty Investigations senior vice president Daphna Nachminovich told CSMonitor.com. “If this program allows people to keep their companion animals then it’s a very good thing.”
According to Pet Food Stamps's website, "the Pet Food Stamps program, a registered NYS non-profit corporation, has been created to fill the void in the United States Food Stamp program which excludes the purchase of pet food and pet supplies. In these rough economic times, many pet owners are forced to abandon their beloved pet to the ASPCA, North Shore Animal League or other animal shelters due to the inability to pay for their basic food supply and care. There are over 50 million Americans who currently receive Food Stamps, many with dogs or cats, who simply cannot afford to feed their animals, and these cherished companions are dropped off at animal shelters where they will most likely be put to sleep. A recent New York Times article states that “animal shelters have reported a steep rise in the number of cats and dogs being surrendered as owners face unemployment, home foreclosures, evictions and other financial hardships. As more families struggle with difficult choices like paying the rent or buying food, some have to choose between keeping their pet and putting food on the table."
There is no cost for the food deliveries to pet owners, and the program is open to U.S. citizens anywhere in the country. Pet Food Stamps is receiving approximately 3,000 requests per day currently.
To learn more about Pet Food Stamps, including information on how to apply, visit their website at PetFoodStamps.org.