Pet owners call for use of food stamps for pet food

Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 3:25 PM CST
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Some pet owners are arguing that food stamp benefits should extend to pets.

Tough times and economic hardship can sometimes lead to heartbreaking decisions.

“I mean if you are going to adopt an animal it should be a lifelong decision not just a couple years,” Shaina Luttrell said. “If you have a tough time I don't think you should get rid of it. I think you should do everything you can to keep your animals because they depend on you to take care of them.”

Thousands of animals end up in shelters each year when their owners can no longer afford to care for them. A petition on the website “Care 2” is catching nationwide attention. It calls for the USDA to allow low income families to use the "supplemental nutrition assistance program" or Food Stamps to buy pet food. While there's no clear cut plans to change the current law, a program in Omaha through the Nebraska Humane Society is filling the gaps.

“We have dog food,” Pam Wiese said. “We have puppy food and older dog food. We do have some special diets as well.”

The Pet Food Pantry is stocked with dog and cat food for pets of all life stages at no cost for those who fall on hard times.

“We know that it's traumatic for a pet to leave their person, come to a shelter,” Wiese said. “It's expensive for us to process an animal all the way through the shelter to get it back out, so if we can give a couple bags of food and keep that pet with their person it's better for the person and its definitely better for the pet and it's better for the shelter as well.”

Pet owners leave the Pantry with a month's supply of food after providing the shelter with some contact information. The Nebraska Humane Society says it's a win-win keeping families together and animals out of the shelter.