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Feeding Your Dog on a Budget: How Pet Food Pantries Can Help

Being a dog owner is no doubt a very highly rewarding experience. Dogs can be very whimsical, entertaining, loving and devoted companions, and studies have proven that they can actually improve their owners’ mental and physical health and well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and stress, improving mood and providing emotional comfort. That said, being a dog owner is a big responsibility, especially when it comes to providing them with a sufficient diet.

Feeding a Dog on a Tight Budget

It is an unfortunate fact that many individuals across the country sometimes find themselves in a position where they simply cannot afford to feed themselves either adequately or frequently–sometimes both. While this may be heartbreaking enough to consider, it is even more heartbreaking when one realizes that many of these individuals have animals they also cannot feed. In many cases, these individuals cannot bear the idea of parting with their beloved pet, and will often go without the things they need in order to care for their pet as best they can. Fortunately, pet food pantries exist for the express purpose of aiding these individuals in caring for their pets while going through financially difficult times.

Pet food pantries have recently been springing up across the country as more and more communities recognize that they are in just as much need as food banks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Pet food pantries can allow individuals who are barely living from paycheck to paycheck, if they are employed at all, to maintain the beneficial relationship they have with their family pet by assisting them in providing food for their pet. These individuals often consider their pets part of their family, and are immensely grateful to the organizations that can help them continue to enjoy pet ownership.

One pet food pantry in New York City has provided great relief to numerous city residents and their pets. Animal Care Centers of NYC is a nonprofit organization that runs city animal shelters and recently opened up a brand new pet food pantry. In its very first month of operation, the Animal Care Centers pet food pantry handed out more than two thousand pounds of food for over one hundred twenty pets whose owners simply could not afford to feed them but could not bear to part with them. Dr. Emily Weiss of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals points out that such a service is invaluable because pets and people do well together, and should not be penalized because pet food is unaffordable at some point during their relationship.

These new pet food pantries have become part of a movement that has as its goal a reduction of shelter populations across the country. If more individuals would take on or keep pets when provided with assistance in feeding their pets, shelter populations would be dramatically reduced across the country, and more pets and people would live happier lives together. To this end, the ASPCA has awarded over four hundred thousand dollars in the past six years to organizations across the country that help to provide and distribute free food for pets.

Some individuals may argue that such attention and help is misdirected, as individuals who cannot afford to take care of themselves certainly should not take on a pet as well. However, this seems to overlook the special bonds that can be formed between some pets and their owners, sometimes quite accidentally–as in the case of rescued strays. This effort to reach out and help another living being is not only beneficial for the individual himself, but is something that society as a whole should applaud and support, not condemn. Especially when one considers that a little support at one time or another may help the individual to improve their own life to a point where they can then give that same sort of support to others who need it.

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