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Should Food Stamps cover food for pets?

By on March 31, 2018

Recently, there’s been a conversation about the federal government prescribing standard food boxes for folks on food stamps. We aren’t going to talk about the government and its attempts to tell people what they can eat here, but the topic of what folks should or could buy with their assistance dollars has produced another question: should people be able to buy food for their pets with food stamps?

Omaha.com, among other sites, recently included some opinion on the issue. The Omaha-World-Herald opinion piece astutely said, “It is heartbreaking that many people who can’t afford to feed their pets must give them up to shelters or other owners, and some pets are euthanized. But this is not an issue Americans should look to government to resolve.” We tend to agree and think most will prefer the government not to be in between people and their companion animals. Also, the Omaha.com opinion author stated that pet food is an issue better addressed by charitable organizations or private donors.

In Omaha, the Nebraska Humane Society has a well-maintained and supported Food Bank for animals. There’s a process that recipients must go through to get food to maintain accountability and a history of gifts. The shelter’s Web site states, “Our Pet Food Pantry is open Wednesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Center for Humane Education, located on the west side of our campus. This pantry can help tide over pet owners who have fallen on hard times. No appointment is needed. Food is distributed free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.” Read more about the shelter’s food bank and other community programs here.

Some people on government assistance who have pets say they’d rather go hungry than see their animals missing meals. Other folks recognize that people can fall on hard times acutely, and losing their beloved animals is something that would only exacerbate their troubles. Food stamps being used for their animals is one idea. Shelters and other humane organizations being helpers is another. Where do you stand on the issue?

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