The national food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) was created by an act of Congress in 1964. Its purpose was to provide assistance to those with low incomes so that they might receive enough to eat.
The program specifically prohibits that SNAP benefits be used for the purchase of pet foods. However, Edward Johnston of Mississippi wants to change that. Mr. Johnston is a recipient of SNAP benefits. He is also a dog owner. In order to make sure that his dog doesn’t go hungry, Mr. Johnson feeds his pet with food that he has purchased for himself.
Mr. Johnson, and other advocates for the poor, believe that those pet owners who are on SNAP benefits shouldn’t have to take from their limited resources to provide for their pets. They want the government to start allowing SNAP benefits to be available for those with pets.
Right now, many with low incomes are pet owners. Approximately 14 percent of pet owners make less than $25,000 a year. Many families who give up their pets to shelters each year state that if they had some type of assistance, they would keep their pet and provide for it.
In order to draw attention to their cause of providing SNAP benefits to pets, an online petition has been created. The goal is to obtain 90,000 signatures. As of January 29, 89,000 signatures have been obtained.
Even though those with low incomes don’t receive SNAP benefits to feed their pets, there are organizations that are trying to help. PetSmart Charities has been working with Feeding America to donate pet food to the food banks that Feeding America operates in the United States. In New York City, The ASPCA is working with food pantries to provide pet food to those that use the food bank’s services.
Unfortunately, many in rural areas don’t have access to food banks. Take Mr. Johnston for instance, he lives over a two hours drive from an assistance center. He, and others in his situation, hope that in the future, they will not be have to make the choice between having enough to eat in order to provide for their dog or cat.