If you’ve never been on food stamps (or SNAP, as it’s now called), you might be surprised at just how many restrictions there are on their use. You can buy fresh and packaged foods, but not pre-cooked foods from the deli. You can buy seeds and plants for your home garden. You can’t buy alcohol, tobacco, personal care products, or even vitamins. And you definitely can’t buy food for your pet.
That’s a problem for families who adopt a pet, only to be hit with unexpected financial difficulties later down the road. Pets are easily a 10-20 year commitment, and a lot can happen over the course of a decade, including the loss of a job or the death of a spouse.
We don’t expect parents with a low income to choose between feeding their children and handing them over the to the state. So why should families who have bonded with a pet have to make the choice between feeding their pet and giving it away — especially when there are so many homeless pets in the world already?
That’s where the new nonprofit Pet Food Stamps comes in. This New York-based organization is not affiliated with the government, and runs completely on donations, providing free pet food to families who can prove they’re already receiving state benefits. Their goal is as ambitious as it is simple: to help families who might otherwise have to surrender their cat or dog to a shelter, and prevent pets who can’t be re-homed from being euthanized.
U.S. residents receiving food stamps, welfare or social security as their sole source of income are allowed to apply, and may be eligible to receive food for multiple pets, depending on their situation. Even pets with special dietary needs can receive free food — the available brands include hypoallergenic, calorie control and prescription chow.
So far, the program only covers dogs and cats, but will hopefully start providing food for other animals soon. Applying for benefits is quick and simple, but because of the high demand, it may take up to 8 weeks to receive a response. So far around 200,000 people have already applied for the program.
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