POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 9:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 9:34pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — When the recession hit a few years ago, many people were forced to give up their pets because they could not afford to take care of them any more. A new non-profit called Pet Food Stamps  aims to fix that.
It delivers pet food to people who might not otherwise be able to pay for it. Dog owners say it is expensive to feed their animals.
"I get a bag, you know, one of those big bags for about $50, maybe a little more than that," said John Woodcock. "But I have four roommates to split it with, so I guess it's not too bad."
"He's a small dog, so about $15 for a five pound bag," said Rev. Alexis Anderson.
A couple of agencies in Baton Rouge offer free spay/neuter services, and the Louisiana SPCA offers pet food assistance to people who live in New Orleans.
Pet Food Stamps is a non-profit organization, funded completely by donations and grants. Pet owners can apply online, and once approved, the agency ships food to their door every month. It currently offers food for dogs, cats, and other small animals.
Anderson believes Pet Food Stamps provides an especially important service for the elderly.
"A lot of senior citizens need their pets," she said. "It's a way of keeping them out of isolation. And as they get on fixed incomes and become ill, oftentimes, the first thing they have to give up is their pet because of the cost."
Pet Food Stamps claims more than 40,000 people around the U.S. have applied to date. It is an idea that many pet owners wish somebody had come up with much sooner.
"I think it's a good idea," Woodcock said. "I never even really thought about it."
"As most of us remember after Katrina, people didn't realize that most of us consider our pets family," Anderson said. "So sometimes the things that are most obvious aren't the things that are readily done."
Pet Food Stamps only offers food, for now. But it says it plans to offer free or discounted vet care by the end of the year.
To apply, click here .