Low income families around the country could now qualify for a new program designed to keep pets at home with their families, and out of overcrowded shelters.
Pet Food Stamps, a non-profit pending corporation based in New York City and the brainchild of Marc Okon, an animal lover that saw a very real need for families with pets struggling in this economy, is designed to fill the void in the nation’s current assistance programs that exclude the purchase of food and supplies for family pets. The program offers assistance, not just for dogs and cats, but for some small animals and reptiles as well.
According to their website, PetFoodStamps.org,
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.
Naturally, many people believe that if someone can’t afford to feed themselves, they shouldn’t have pets. It’s a valid point. But, there are lots of people that find themselves in a temporary hardship. The Pet Food Stamps program is meant to provide a hand up, not a hand out, to keep families together and pets well cared for.
In only the first two weeks since their launch, over 45,000 members have already signed up.
Applying for the pet food stamps program is simple and available to any resident of the United States. Just visit the website and fill out an application. Most applicants that are already receiving another form of government assistance will likely be approved for the program.
Okon told reporters, “The love of a pet, the therapeutic ability of a pet and things like that are impossible to measure. It gives us a great feeling of pride to be able to help people like that and we’re happy to do it.”
Once approved, members of the program will receive free monthly deliveries of food and supplies for their pets, which the program orders through PetFoodDirect.com. Pet owners can choose whichever brand of food they prefer, as long as it is available through PetFoodDirect.com, a great solution to those owners of pets with special dietary needs or certain food allergies.
With continued growth, Pet Food Stamps hopes to eventually offer free or heavily discounted veterinary services to its members as well as food and supplies.
The program is operated solely through the generosity and donations of others and is not federally funded. However, Pet Food Stamps hopes to find corporate sponsorship in the near future. “We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” explained Pet Food Stamps founder and executive director Marc Okon. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
The program’s goal is to help pets to remain in their homes, with their families, instead of the alternative – surrendering the animals to already overcrowded shelters where they are most likely going to be euthanized.
To learn more, or to apply for pet food assistance, visit www.PetFoodStamps.org.