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ASPCA Defends Pet Food Stamps

By Tara MacIsaac
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 27, 2013 Last Updated: March 6, 2013
Related articles: United States » National News
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Unah, a New York City local who loves chasing squirrels but strongly dislikes skateboarders. The New York-based program Pet Food Stamps has attracted some contempt, but the ASPCA stated that the program will help ease shelter capacity constraints and have an uplifting effect on pets in financially distressed homes. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

Unah, a New York City local who loves chasing squirrels but strongly dislikes skateboarders. The New York-based program Pet Food Stamps has attracted some contempt, but the ASPCA stated that the program will help ease shelter capacity constraints and have an uplifting effect on pets in financially distressed homes. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

Pet Food Stamps, a new non-profit based in New York City, is offering assistance to tens of thousands of low-income pet owners across the nation.

The program has garnered some criticism: Some believe that being able to afford pet food with assistance will not help pay for shots, neutering, and other pet-related expenses, while some are simply critical of social assistance for animals, even if it is not from tax-payer money.

“More Incentives for a dependent Cradle to Grave (even pets!),” read one of many scathing Tweets from Tuesday.

Michael Barrett, vice president of grants management at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), addressed these criticisms.

“While some people might scoff at the idea of a pet food bank at first glance as something outlandish or simply low in priority in our society’s response to poverty and other economic challenges, it’s important to emphasize that most pets’ owners consider their pets to be part of the family, and pets are likely to be a significant source of emotional support and simple moments of joy that financially distressed families rely on during hard times,” Barrett wrote in an email.

A variety of net programs exist already to help struggling pet owners in various ways. The programs primarily prevent animals from ending up in overcrowded shelters.

The ASPCA has spent $2 million since its grants department opened in 2008 to provide veterinary care, food, vaccinations, and education assistance to pet owners.

The Pet Food Stamps program could be an avenue to communicate with struggling pet owners in order to inform them of these other services, according to Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser at the ASPCA.

He said that such programs will not likely encourage low-income people who would not otherwise have pets to think they can now afford them.

“The reality is that people on public assistance already own pets,” Zawistowski wrote in an email. “Most pets are acquired from friends, neighbors and relatives at little or no cost, so the barriers to acquisition are not substantial.”

Pet Food Stamps is gaining traction—the website is so busy, it was temporarily unavailable Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Founder Marc Okon told ABC News that he gets several thousand applications daily. With many of the applications including multiple pets, the number of pets applied for so far totals more than 40,000.

Income background checks are done to ensure that the applicant qualifies. According to Okon, if people qualify for federal food assistance, they will probably qualify for pet food stamps.

He said, “The love of a pet, the therapeutic ability of a pet and things like that are impossible to measure.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.c.hatch Jane Celia Hatch

    CRITICS OF FOOD STAMPS FOR PETS PLEASE UNDERSTAND–Many animals whose owners cannot afford to feed them are taken to “shelters”. Most shelters in this country have a very high kill rate–some of the animals are even gassed to death–a gruesome death. Check out your local shelter and find out for yourself. Would opponents of the food stamps for pets rather see animals abandoned, terrified all alone at the shelters and then killed? And those who state this program isn;t good enough or comprehensive enough– Well, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and it is elitist say “what about vet costs,etc?”. Love and food can go a long long way towards a happy life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.miller.39794 Kathy Miller

      I love this idea but the people running it are very unorganized. They need more
      volunteers so far one person has received help and they need to put info up for those waiting there are pet food banks in a few states also pet smart get’s pet food donations and does help they don’t post this on there page and the comments there are bad if you are going to start something like this make sure you can make it work.

  • mstaken

    Apparently someone at ASPCA doesn’t know who or what Pet Food Stamps is. And Mr. Barrett in particular, while defending a program meant to help people in need is wonderful, you’re defending a program that has sent food to maybe 4 people total. They have our personal information. We are not being notified by anyone of anything. The EIN PRS provides goes nowhere, PFS is not on IRS or Guidestar. We are afraid, after waiting a good 6 months that we have been taken. And that our information could be used or sold. Please do more looking into this program. We need answers.


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