Close to 50 million people in the U.S. are currently enrolled in the national food stamp program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers assistance to eligible low-income individuals, has helped many struggling families stay afloat during some pretty tough times.
But while the SNAP program helps feed people in need, it does not have a program in place to make sure the dogs and cats who live in low-income households have enough food in their bowls. Much too often in these tough economic times, otherwise loving owners have had to make the difficult decision to surrender their pets to overcrowded shelters simply because they cannot afford to feed their four-legged friends.
But New York-based organization Pet Food Stamps hopes to change all that. The group is offering pet food assistance for owners nationwide who qualify for their program. When a pet owner applies online for the Pet Food Stamps program, the organization verifies the applicant’s household income and overall need. If the individual qualifies, his or her pets will receive deliveries of pet food from an online pet retailer for six months, providing much-needed relief for pet owners struggling to care for their beloved animal companions.
The response from financially struggling pet owners has been overwhelming; according to ABC News, over 45,000 pets have been signed up for the program in the last two weeks alone.
Pet Food Stamps Executive Director Marc Okon tells New Mexico’s KVIA.com that, among the many applicants across the U.S., close to 400 families from the “Land of Enchantment” state have applied for assistance so far.
“I received a letter from a woman who is on food stamps,” Okon says. “She lost her job recently. She’s a single mother of a severely disabled young boy, and she said his only companion and his only mode of communication is with the family dog and they’re thinking about getting rid of the dog because they can’t afford to feed it.”
“It’s people like that that this program is aimed to help,” the Pet Food Stamps executive director explains.
Wisconsin dog owner Kate Edwards tells WEAU.com she feels the program has the potential to keep families and their pets together, even during tough economic times. “I really think that a program that’s charitable and donation-based for food stamps for pets is a wonderful idea so that people can stay united with their pet,” Edwards says.
Okon clarifies that the Pet Food Stamps organization is not a government-funded program. Instead, generous donations from individuals and corporate sponsors have helped the nonprofit-pending group provide pet food for those in need.
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon explains. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
For more information about Pet Food Stamps, check out the organization’s website and Facebook page. If you would like to help the Pet Food Stamps program continue to serve struggling pet owners across the U.S., please consider making a donation to their cause. To help disadvantaged pet owners in your area, contact your local animal rescue organizations about starting up a pet food bank.
Sources: KVIA.com, ABCNews.go.com, WEAU.com