The new donation-based program Pet Food Stamps, based in New York, is helping people who can’t afford to feed their pets. It’s open to anyone in the country, and people are quickly signing up.
It’s not a government program. It’s a donation-based nonprofit group. Marc Okon created it, hoping to let low-income families keep their pets when times get rough.
“I received a letter from a woman who is on food stamps,” he told ABC-7. “She lost her job recently. She’s a single mother of a severely disabled young boy, and she said his only companion and his only mode of communication is with the family dog, and they’re thinking about getting rid of the dog because they can’t afford to feed it. It’s people like that who this program is aimed to help.”
A message on the site reads, “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.”
Pet Food Stamps began just two weeks ago, and the response has been overwhelming.
“We’re receiving several thousand applications a day,” said Okon. “And with each application there may be two or three dogs, or two or three cats, so in total we have over 40,000 cats and dogs already awaiting food.”
“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”
Signing up is simple: Complete an online application on the website. Once the info is verified, applicants will receive a monthly shipment of food from Pet Food Direct for a period of six months. In the future, the group hopes to offer free or heavily discounted veterinary care as well.
The program runs solely off of private donations, but Okon is looking for corporate sponsors. He said people who quality for government assistance probably qualify for his program.
“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,” he said.