Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition circulating online, but the issue has others snapping back.
The petition called “Don’t Let Pets Starve – Include Pet Food in SNAP Benefits!” targets the U. S. Department of Agriculture which presides over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The program helps millions of low- or no-income Americans pay for food.
SNAP benefits include food items like: bread, cereal, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, seeds, soft drinks and candy.
Some things not included: beer, wine, cigarettes, soaps, paper products and pet food.
But the petition circulating on thepetitionsite.com argues SNAP benefits should include pet food.
It says in part:
“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. 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?”
“Pets are also important for emotional support. Being poor is hard enough without being expected to give up your companion. For most people, pets are considered family, not property.”
The effort had reached more than 88,000 of its 90,000 signature goal by Monday morning. Others who are not in favor have taken to the internet to express their disapproval.
Locally, people in need are searching for places to help pay for pet food.
"Hungry people have companions. They have pets in their household that are very special to them and they're hungry too," said Lane Brown with Greensboro Urban Ministry.
In mid-January, the Greensboro Urban Ministry partnered with the Humane Society of The Piedmont for a trial run to give away pet food for the first time. Brown says 520 pounds of dog food flew off the shelf in less than two days.
"We feel like it was a successful pilot project to show that there definitely is need among our families and their pets," said Brown.
Greensboro Urban Ministry is currently out of pet food and does not accept pet food donations. They receive their pet food from the Humane Society. If you'd like to donate pet food you can contact the Humane Society directly.