What would happen if you suddenly found yourself without a job and without the money to pay for your home, your car, and/or buy food for your family? Now what about your pet who rightly expects you to fill his bowl each and every day? If you can’t afford to feed your family, how do you take care of your best canine or feline friend?

 

Many people find themselves in these types of situations. Perhaps they just had a baby or their spouse lost his or her job. The last thing people want to do is take their “fur kids” to the animal shelter where they might be euthanized. Of the 6-8 million animals brought to shelters each year, about half (3-4 million) are euthanized because they cannot find someone to love them.

 

But now, thanks to a new non-governmental, non-profit organization called “Pet Food Stamps,” money is available to help those in need. The program was created earlier this year, with money donated by individuals, businesses, and foundation grants.

 

According to petfoodstamps.org, to be eligible, people must be receiving some form of public assistance (e.g., human food stamps, welfare, social security), and your income must place you under the poverty level in the U.S. It is easy to apply on the website, but due to the overwhelming response, it may take weeks to be approved. The amount of financial help available is determined by the owner’s needs and the pet’s nutritional needs (i.e., size). The pet food is delivered to your home, free of charge.

 

People who do not qualify for the pet food stamps program might still be interested in ordering food for home delivery. On-line retailers of pet food typically have very competitive prices and offer free shipping on orders over a particular dollar amount.

 

Some people may think that if people cannot afford to care for a pet, they shouldn’t have one. However, studies show that pets are good for people in a number of ways:

 

  1. Children with two or more pets in the house while growing up have fewer allergies.
  2. Infants living in a house with dogs and cats in the first year of life have fewer respiratory infections.
  3. Pets help to reduce depression by lowering cortisol (a chemical made in the body associated with stress) and increasing serotonin (a chemical associated with feeling good).
  4. Pets help lower blood pressure.
  5. Other possible benefits of pet ownership or contact include:
    • Reduced chance of having a heart attack or stroke
    • Increased exercise (e.g., taking your dog for walks)
    • Improve ADHD and autism in children
    • Dogs may alert owners to impending health emergencies (e.g., diabetes attack, seizures)

 

People and pets benefit from their relationships with one another. Visit Petfoodstamps.org to enroll, or to donate money to this worthwhile program.

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

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