As many people face difficult financial times, they cut back on food purchases and scrounge the newspaper for coupons.
When people start cutting back on food costs, one of the first things they’re likely to reduce spending on is their animal’s food.
One program is suggesting pet food stamps for people facing mounting financial problems to ensure their furry friends don’t suffer.
Pet Food Stamps is a donation-based program that aims to help pets of low-income families and those who already receive food stamps but could not afford to feed pets.
It is based in New York and is open to anyone in the United States. It has already had more than 45,000 pets sign up in the past two weeks.
Marc Okan, the program’s founder and director, said it works by having the pet owner’s income verified, then they will give the pet food each month from pet food retailer Pet Food Direct for six months.
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon said. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
As of now, the only way to apply is by filling out an online application. Okan said once they open their new office, they will begin accepting applications through mail.
They are still waiting to be approved as an official nonprofit.
The country does not have a federal pet food stamp program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service does give protection to pets in emergencies and natural disasters. A 1996 Animal Welfare Act, however, does not state anything about giving food to pets.
Though Okon’s program seems one-of-a-kind, it’s actually one of a few programs in the country that give food to animals in need. Shelters and rescue leagues in the U.S., like the Washington Animal Rescue League, have provided pet food banks for years, in addition to giving discounted pet care.
“One of our missions is to provide income-qualified families with discounted pet care, vaccinations, vaccine clinics, neutered clinics and vet care,” Washington Animal Rescue League spokesman Matt Williams said. “We have a new medical center on site. We also have a food bank run entirely on donations.”
As for the real food stamp program, approximately 46.6 million people used it in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.