As dog parents, we know how expensive it can be to care for our best friends. Vet bills and day-to-day expenses add up fast, and sometimes, a change in fortune can lead to heartbreaking situations.
As reported by Petfinder, financial hardship is one of the main reasons people surrender pets to shelters. When money is tight, some families face an impossible decision: feed yourself, or feed your dog?
Thankfully, there are resources available to pet parents in need. Pet food banks offer free pet food to qualified households, and can help keep pets out of shelters and in the loving homes they deserve.
Are there food stamps for pets?
While there are no state or federal government-sponsored pet food stamp programs, there are pet food resources for people who use food stamps in most states.
Across the country, more and more human food banks are distributing pet food to families who can show proof that they receive public assistance.
Food stamps for pets may become a resource in the future, but in the meantime, if you have a food stamp card, you can find pet food assistance in your community.
Where to find pet food assistance
Start by asking at your local food bank, where pet food donations are often distributed alongside human supplies. For example, here in Seattle, the West Seattle Food Bank distributes pet food at their center.
You can also contact the humane society in your county to ask about pet food donations. If you’re not sure where to start, Banfield Charitable Trust keeps a regularly-updated list of pet food banks and other resources organized by state.
How to qualify for free pet food
Most pet food banks will ask for proof of need, and may require you to show your food stamp card and a current utility bill or rent/mortgage statement before you can receive food. These programs typically require that your pet be spayed or neutered, another important step in decreasing shelter populations.
Organizations like the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County in Washington offer vouchers for low-cost spay/neuter services alongside pet supplies through their pet food bank. You won’t be turned away outright if your pet is not fixed, but you will be given resources to arrange an affordable spay/neuter surgery ASAP.
I don’t need pet food stamps, but I want to help!
Your pet food donations can make a big difference in the life of a family in need, and help keep pets out of crowded shelters. Petco Foundation’s nationwide food bank program includes collection locations in Petco stores across the country, so giving is as easy as adding an extra bag of kibble to your purchase.
You can also contact your local human food bank to ask if they have a pet food program in place. If they do, make a donation! If they don’t, consider helping to get one started. Best Friends Animal Society provides this great “action guide” to organize a Four Legged Food Drive in your community.
No dog parent should have to choose between feeding their pet or feeding themselves. Thankfully, pet food banks mean they don’t have to. By contributing to the pet food bank in your community, you can help fill the bowl and keep families together.