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Entries in Pet Food Stamps (2)

Sunday
Mar172013

What Are Pet Food Stamps? 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new New York-based non-profit is gaining popularity with a program aimed at helping low income animal owners with the well-being of their pets.

Several years ago, a friend of Marc Okon's told him that she was having financial difficulties and was receiving food stamps. "She told me she sometimes feeds her cat before herself and goes without eating," he said in an interview with ABC/Univision. "I felt horrible, and the term 'pet food stamps' entered my mind. It stayed with me until recently when I pursued it further and was able to open up this non-profit nationally."

Okon launched Animal Food Stamps in February of this year. Since then the organization has received more than 125,000 applications covering more than 250,000 pets. The non-profit provides free pet food to owners who need a little help to get to the end of the month. All food is bought thanks to private donations and through PetFlow.com. They expect the first batch of food will be sent out to be delivered next week.

Since it was launched, the service has received so many applications that the verification process is backed up by about three weeks. Once approved, Pet Food Stamps will supply up to six months of free food. Owners will then have to re-apply to get another six months worth of food. Okon says, if needed, they could fill all of the current applications, but not all may meet the approval process requirements.

For those looking to receive dog food the process is simple. Log on to Pet Food Stamps and fill out a brief form. Soon after, a volunteer will reach out to verify the information, perform an income background check and approve or reject the petition. If people qualify for federal food stamps (and about 15 percent of the nation does) or fall below the poverty line, they will likely qualify for pet food, too.

The goal is not only to help pet owners in need, but also to lower the number of abandoned animals around the country. Although there have been numerous attempts to reduce the shelter intake number, such as low cost vet services, counseling and free spaying and neutering, this unique program is meant to fill a distinct void. According to Okon "seven million pets are surrendered to shelters each year with four million being killed due to lack of food."

The non-profit is not only working with pet owners, but also sending literature to every shelter in the country to hand out to people before they surrender their pets. "We are confident this will make a huge difference in shelter population, amount of pets put to sleep and help keep families together," Okon said.

As the non-profit grows and continues to increase its funding, Okon expects to hire more people and recruit more volunteers to help with the approval process, which would vastly increase the amount of daily pet food deliveries. They will also be airing a television commercial to raise awareness of the issue in the coming weeks.

As they say on their website, Pet Food Stamps doesn't want to see pet owners be put in between supporting their animal or paying the rent.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb252013

Food Stamps for Pets?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When man falls on hard times, what’s his best friend to do?

A new donation-based program called Pet Food Stamps aims to provide food stamps for pets of low-income families and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets, reported ABC affiliate KVIA in Las Cruces, N.M.

Based in New York, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 45,000 pets have already been signed up in the past two weeks, according to the program’s founder and executive director, Marc Okon. Once need and income is verified, the families will receive pet food each month from pet food retailer Pet Food Direct for a six-month period.

“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABC News. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

The only way to apply for the program is through an online application, but Okon said applications would be accepted through mail once the program moved to its new office.

Okon said the program’s nonprofit status was still pending.

There is currently no federal pet food stamp program in place, although the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service tries to provide protection for animals in case of emergencies or natural disasters. The 1966 Animal Welfare Act also makes no mention of providing food for pets.

Okon’s program isn’t revolutionary. Other animal shelters and rescue leagues around the country, such as the Washington Animal Rescue League, have been providing pet food banks, in addition to discounted pet care, for years.

“One of our missions is to provide income-qualified families with discounted pet care, vaccinations, vaccine clinics, neutered clinics and vet care,” said Washington Animal Rescue League spokesman Matt Williams. “We have a new medical center on site.....We also have a food bank run entirely on donations.”

The new pet food stamp program comes at a time when monthly food stamp assistance could be phased out. A temporary food stamp boost for low-income families was initiated in April 2009 to help offset the effects of the 2008 recession and is set to expire on Oct. 31, 2013, unless Congress passes legislation to extend the benefits.

Approximately 46.6 million people used the federal food stamp program in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio