Food stamps for Fido and Fluffy?
A nonprofit group funds 'pet food stamps' for lower-income animal owners. Other options exist, too.
The U.S. government is not involved. Again: not involved. Your tax dollars are not supporting someone's right to own a calico or corgi.
The program is open to people already receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) or who are living at or below the poverty level.
No money or electronic benefit cards change hands. If you're approved, pet products will be shipped to your home free of charge.
This begs the question: Should poor people even have pets?
Some would say "not if they can't afford to feed them." But keep in mind that some pet owners who once made good money have fallen on hard times, thanks to unemployment or illness or some other factor. Others have always lived close to the bone, as it were, but are willing to do without certain comforts in order to have the love and loyalty of a companion animal.
Here's what I think: If you have major consumer debt and/or an uncertain job situation, don't adopt a pet. You could wind up with an even heavier debt load, especially if the animal gets sick or injured.
But if you already have a pet and believe its companionship irreplaceable? Read on.
Local and national sources
Rather than pin all your hopes on the Pet Food Stamps program -- which surely can't help everyone who applies -- start searching for other options.
A great source of information is the "Having trouble affording your pet?" section of the Humane Society of the United States website. It's a long, long list of regional and national organizations that offer food, supplies, vet care and even grooming.
Note: The page also has a free or low-cost spaying/neutering link. Use it. If you're having trouble caring adequately for the pets you already have, don't allow them to make more mouths you can't feed.
While the Humane Society list is terrific, it's not comprehensive. For example, it includes resources in Canada and Puerto Rico but not Alaska or South Carolina.
That doesn't mean those states have no animal charities, but rather that some local groups operate without publicity.
Petco.com has a food bank donation program, i.e., you can donate in their stores. The website links to the names of local groups that receive the food -- which is how I found that programs exist in two cities in Alaska and seven in South Carolina. Check the site for programs in your own region.
A national group called Pets of the Homeless distributes food and supplies at places like rescue missions, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. If you're currently couch-surfing versus living at a shelter you might not know that, so follow the link to see if there's aid in your area.
Contact food banks in your city. They may be set up to feed humans, but some also collect pet food and supplies.
Ask your vet about local groups, including animal rescue organizations whose members might temporarily foster your pet or donate supplies.
If you're physically able, offer to trade pet services (walking, scooping, grooming) or pet-sitting for animal food and supplies. Maybe a friend wouldn't mind throwing an extra bag of kibble into her shopping cart if she knew you'd keep her dog whenever she goes out of town.
A few more options:
- Talk to social service agencies in your area. Don't know where to start? Call 211 or visit 211.org.
- Sign up for The Freecycle Network if there's a chapter in your area. I've seen pet food and supplies being given away.
- Do a daily Internet search for "free pet food." Companies offer free samples or even full-sized products via Facebook and freebie bloggers. I ran one such offer in my free-stuff column this week: a printable Petco coupon for a free 13-ounce can of Pro Plan dog food. (No printer? Ask a friend or family member to do the honors, or print it at the library.)
- Put the word out that you're in need of some temporary assistance. Maybe somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who's willing to help.
More on MSN Money:
animals are not disposable, even if you hit hard times financially. i think this program is a great idea
While the Humane Society of the United States website may have a long list of places low income pet owners can turn to for assistance, anyone who donates or logs on to HSUS.org needs to know that the HSUS itself is the leading cause of both the problems of
1. cash-strapped shelters and
2. the needless killing of adoptble animals in cruel and dysfunctional shelters (see the No Kill blog for more on that)
HSUS raises well over $100 million a year off the backs of homeless dogs and cats - and gives less than one half of one percent of it to pet shelters. HSUS raised $35 million "for Hurricane Katrina pet rescue" and spent just 20% on the disaster. The Louisiana Attorney General spent 18 months waiting for HSUS to account for the money it fleeced - HSUS could not. HSUS's entire Emergency Response Team resigned in 2009 rather than work for team leader Scotlund Haisley, an unqualified, bar and strip-club obsessed dude who expected the team to impersonate law enforcement officers. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, who thinks Michael Vick is a dog lover, had to fire Haisley because of ongoing lawsuits for illegal raids. Pacelle replaced him with Haisley's second in command,a bar-hopping fellow misogynist named Rowdy Shaw.
Okay, first of all, this program is NOT funded by the government, so this article is totally unrelated to the one about death panels. And the reporting of various journalists is just that...reporting, unless it is an ed-op column, which makes it more irrelevant.
That being said, let's think about the extreme number of animals being put down in shelters and reconsider this issue. Pets can be a huge benefit in so many ways to people who need help. They can even be the motivating factor perhaps in going out and getting a job. Not to mention what they can do for your mental and physical well being. If the government isn't paying for this, and the article clearly states that it is not, then let's get some dogs and cats out of shelters and into homes where everyone can benefit!
Anything that can help innocent animals, especially when the help is coming from benefactors, is worth doing. If you doubt this, go spend some time in shelters to witness first hand their plight, especially municipal shelters. Hopeless overcrowding is the norm. This invariably means healthy animals have to be killed to make room for the never-ending, heartbreaking intake. This also means diseases are easily transmitted further dooming otherwise healthy animals who usually are lonely, frightened and depressed. The aggregate waste of unconditional love and fidelity is incalculable and disgraceful to human integrity.
Our dogs and cats who mean so much to us deserve all the help they can get.
Okay im 20 years old and im on EBT, its suppose to be just for me but i feed my boyfriend and our roommate and i only get 200 a month. do i look for a job yes i do,but its not easy to get a job but i do try. food stamps are not bad if you really need them, yes i do have a dog and she is my little girl, i feed her buy her toys with odd jobs. pet stamps are great.
I'VE NOT wondered about the dumb dicisions our government makes. Just lood at the dumb a---- responders 62-6 for free pet foods. Have you folks seen the conditions that "poor" people and their pets usually live?
I love animals but truth is they cost money. Case in point: several DECADES ago a cat
developed a respiratory problem which required vet treatment. Before the weekend ended, intensive care respiratory solutions totaled $1100. Upon reaching $1100, I
authorized the bubble-machine be stopped, paid the bill, grieved for the cat and never
let pet care exceed $200 thereafter. Pets are good for children and I applaud parents
giving pets to kids, though I crusade about unprepared adults having children before
they have training, career tenure and a sizable nest-egg for life's expenses. We should HAVE/CONTROL that which we can provide, want and wish but which requires sacrifice.
The buck stops there as it should.
"No tacked, no redemption...." Taxpayers expect that aware responsible management
will be accorded benefit program recipients. Why should a hard working stressed
middle-class taxpayer who foregoes family vacation/weekly pizza/cable services/Friday
outings, etc. 'host' a "needy single-parent family whose ten year old has a Great Dane?'
Why should a high earning swinging single "host" a unwed mother of three who doesn't
work or isn't enrolled (and SUCCEEDING) in career development attempts? Why should a millionaire "adopt financial responsibility" for an ailing low-income senior because he (the millionair) can bear the tax burden?
Or, "if I didn't study when I was a kid or obey society's norms" why should I get breaks,
pet food (like those who worked harder to have pets), or extended family members (unwed mothers or destitute seniors who never bothered to save)?
One can't spend what isn't there and shouldn't celebrate or buy what can't be paid. We
vote for miracles that burden our progeny as though it was only a grain of rice. Then,
after we've voted and indebted the district for 20 years, we pass bonds for event
celebrations; or we celebrate (at much cost) but ignore interest-bearing debts that
should have been paid instead. Food stamps for pet food, canteen drugs, pleasures??
Give them an inch and they will take a mile and a trillion and still want more .......
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Children from lower income families are at greater risk of suffering accidental injuries and being sickened by food, according to a Consumer Federation of America study.