In the United States, more than 40 million low- or no-income people rely on a program that helps them purchase food via an federally-run program.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the most wide-reaching program in the U.S. hunger safety net. Without it, millions of families are unable to eat.
But what about their pets? A new petition wants to change policy and it’s gone viral. Since it was launched in January, more than 230,000 people have signed up. The petition is hoping to make SNAP benefits allowable for pet food.
Some people may argue that if humans can’t afford to buy food, why should animals eat? And the argument has also been made that people should not keep pets if they can’t afford to feed them.
The petition’s author Edward B. Johnston Jr. makes the point that an individual or a family’s financial status can change suddenly. If someone has had a pet for years and they’ve hit a financial situation, should they be forced to give up their pet? As Johnston writes:
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.
Animals have also been shown to help bring down blood pressure and ease other illnesses.