Should low-income pet owners be allowed to use food stamps to purchase pet food?

An online petition that has received more than 90,000 signatures wants pet food to be included in SNAP eligible products.

The USDA specifically prohibits using the program for pet food.  According to the petition, 'Unfortunately, SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy pet food, leaving poor families with pets in a difficult position.' 

Edward B Johnston, Jr. it the creator of the petition.  He said this as hd encouraged people to sign:

“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?”

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 also precludes the following items from being purchased with SNAP benefits:  alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption. Nonfood items such as soaps, paper products, medicines and vitamins, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics, also are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.  But it does allow candy to be purchased.

Financial problems often force low-income families to give up their pet. Housing problems was the number one reason for re-homing pets, according to an October 2015 survey.  The New York ASPCA found that at least 30 percent of low-income people who gave up their pets would have kept them if they had food for them.  The study stated:  "Poverty in and of itself is not a driver, but it appears that lack of access to affordable options for pet care and retention is. By increasing access to these options, we can likely increase retention."

It would take an Act of Congress to allow pet food to be purchased under the SNAP program.  There are currently no backers to that sort of legislation and its passage would be a longshot.

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