Food stamps for pets?

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Not being able to afford to feed a pet is a reason many people surrender their pets to shelters. An animal control officer I know always carried cans and bags of food “unofficially” in his truck when driving around neighborhoods he knew to be poor. He told me that he started after someone approached him saying she loved her dog but couldn’t feed him so would need to give him up. It’s not much, but my friend felt better knowing he was helping at least some pets stay in homes where they were loved.

orange happy cat

Bonzai is an adoptable cat at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

Our friends at Discovery News reported a new group working to help feed pets on a national scale. Pet Food Stamps wants to provide free in-home delivery of pet food for low-income people who qualify. states that, according to Mark Okon, the program’s founder and executive director, more than 45,000 pets have been signed up within the past two weeks. The applications will be checked and verified before the families will qualify for the program. The program receives no government funding although, Okon told that “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

Hard times are nothing new and many of us, myself included, have known people on food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits. As of February 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show more than 47,000,000 people receiving SNAP benefits. If even a small fraction of those families had pets before hard times hit and were forced to give those pets to shelters, that’s a large number of pets who could be helped through this program.

Many Petfinder member shelter and rescue groups are already helping on a local level. Some have formal pet food pantries like the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, DC, while others partner with local human food pantries or help as they are able. Guest bloggers Terry May and Susan Fritz even shared some tips here for how to start a pet food bank!

Tell us: Do you know of a local group near you helping families care for pets when hard times hit?