Being both closely and remotely involved in many pet rescues in the United States, I have heard all kinds of reasons for giving up pets. One of the saddest is when someone really loves their pet and is so close to being able to provide their needs, but just far away enough to not be able to supply that need. The paycheck may be coming in a few days but the pet needs food or a vet visit that day. If this is you and you are reading this, there may be a way to avoid surrendering your beloved pet.
Utilize pet food banks
While not widely known, pet food banks are available in many areas around the country. One such example is the Save Our Pets Food Bank: saveourpetsfoodbank.org/ To find one in your area, simply do a web search for your city and “pet food bank” or “pet food pantry”. Even if you don't qualify for pet food stamps, you may still be able to receive regular or temporary assistance from a pet food bank. Wait, pet food stamps?
Did you know about pet food stamps?
Just like those with low income can apply for food stamps (now called SNAP) to feed their families, there are also food stamps geared specifically toward feeding pets. Pet food stamps work a little differently than the kind most are used to. It isn't a government program, but is available to all United States residents who qualify. It is made possible by grants and donations. Find more information here: www.petfoodstamps.org/
Get assistance with veterinary care
Many people are also unaware that there are a whole host pf programs that can help if your pet needs low-cost spay/neuter or vaccination services, emergency surgery, and other veterinary care. Many local rescues will offer the spay and neuter services and vaccinations. Some vets will also lower the cost for those who qualify. One comprehensive list of veterinary care assistance programs can be found here: www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/financial-help-vet-bills.aspx You can also do a web search for programs specific to your city of residence.
Shop at thrift and dollar stores for non-food supplies
Jackets, leashes, collars, toys, pet beds, and climbing devices can be costly if you buy them new. Try shopping in thrift stores for secondhand items. Sometimes these items are still new and in original packaging at the thrift stores. I have also found many of these items at dollar stores and oftentimes, they are the same brands being sold at a much higher price elsewhere. Cutting down on the cost of these items can help relieve some of the overall financial burden that being a pet parent can sometimes bring.
Ask family and friends for help
When all else fails, reach out to those you know to see who can help out with what. Is there a friend or family member willing to donate a bag of food or pay a vet bill until payday? Can someone watch and provide for your pet until you are more financially stable? Do you know people with pets that you can borrow enough food from until your next paycheck?
Hold a fundraiser or garage sale
If you have a skill or a bunch of stuff you no longer want, try holding a fundraiser or sale. Baked goods, handcrafted items, or possessions you no longer need could be a great way to generate the extra cash you need to take care of your pet. If you have gently used clothes, consider selling them to consignment shops. If you hold a sale, consider mentioning that the proceeds will go toward your pets. Some people may feel more generous at your sale knowing this fact.
There are many ways to avoid having to surrender your beloved pet. Pets are, after all, just like your children and you wouldn't give them away in tough times. Give your pet the same courtesy and if you are able, make the best effort toward keeping them in their family with you.
**I originally published this here: http://www.bubblews.com/news/462620