Why Pet Food Should Be Covered by Government-Assisted SNAP Benefits

Why Pet Food Should Be Covered by Government-Assisted SNAP Benefits

There are more than 85,000 signatures on the petition thus far.

By Tamara Palmer

A petition to ask the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow pet food to be purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, or what some still refer to as food stamps) already reached its stated goal of 85,000 signatures.

"Some argue that people should not keep pets if they cannot afford them, but the fact is that an individual or family's financial status can change at any time," wrote the petition's author Edward B. Johnston Jr. "Should someone be forced to give up a pet they've had for years just because they hit a financial rough patch? Or should they be able to utilize federal aid to continue feeding their pet?"

Johnston revealed that he has been on SNAP benefits for a few months and has had a hard time feeding his small dog anything other than people food. He emphasized that pets aren't things, they're living beings with deep connections to their humans.

"Pets are also important for emotional support," he said. "Being poor is hard enough without being expected to give up your companion. For most people, pets are considered family, not property."

Changing these rules would take more than a petition; it would take an act of Congress.

“It’s potentially game-changing,” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty president Matt Bershadker told Washington Post. “I think we should get behind this in a big way.”

The publication noted that some cities offer pet food banks (or pet food assistance programs) for those in need, another idea worth amplifying.

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