I shouldn’t be surprised to see a movement like this starting up, given how many otherwise-sane folks I know who think that their pets are children…but I am anyway.

These groups say that allowing food stamps to be used for pet food could potentially keep tens of thousands of animals out of shelters and prevent low-income people from giving their own food to their pets.

“It’s potentially game-changing,” said Matt Bershadker, the president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “I think we should get behind this in a big way.”

Advocates say a food-stamp program that includes pet food would address a little-discussed gap in the social safety net: Currently, there is no federal program that helps low-income people care for their pets.

Hey, I have a great idea.  If you can’t afford to feed yourself, don’t get an animal.  Really, I see this far too often among low-income people, even some of my current neighbors.  They’re poor as shit, can’t even be bothered to buy winter coats or shoes for their human children, and yet they keep adding pets to the household.  Like, a dog and three cats.   Then they have to borrow cat food from me and don’t take their pets to the veterinarian when they get sick or injured.

There’s nothing compassionate or caring about people like this.  They’re childish, selfish, and negligent to the point of callousness.

I love animals, especially my dog and two cats.  Well, one of my cats.  I’m not saying that poor people shouldn’t have the right to have pets, but if you can’t properly care for one, it’s irresponsible to get one.  Can’t afford food? Don’t get a pet. Do you have $200 to spare if your dog eats a whole plate of chicken bones?  Yeah, no pet for you.  Do your economic circumstances obligate you to work 14 hours a day so that you have to leave your dog in a kennel with nobody to play with him?  Uh huh.  You shouldn’t have a dog, you broke asshole.  Or a kid, really, but it’s unfortunately easier to have a kid than to buy a dog in some places.

You know that if this eventually gets approved anywhere, it’s just going to incentivize poor people to buy and breed animals, right?  It’s the old rule that if you subsidize something, you get more of it (and it ends up becoming more expensive).  I predict an increase in stray animals and those in shelters because the same sort of people who shouldn’t have pets because they’re irresponsible will suddenly think that it’s perfectly fine to get them since gubmint will pay for it.  It will be a disaster, mostly for the animals.

From there, it’s only a matter of time before medical insurance providers are forced to cover veterinary expenses in their policies, because Americans are insane.

10 comments

  1. There are a few ways to approach this. In general, no, people that can’t provide basic care for pets shouldn’t have them. I think even the staunchest leftist is with you on that one.

    There are ways that this happens that I am empathetic towards, namely that the pets were acquired while times were good and then were not. The pets don’t magically disappear when people fall on hard times and I certainly support feeding them while people get back on their feet. Looking at the various crap that can be purchased on food stamps, cat food is more nutritious. Put a time limit or low dollar amount on the pet food allowance. Easy.

    The working poor can play a shell game of sorts with their paychecks and food stamps to fund their pet’s food. Pet food doesn’t have to be expensive unless you have a stable of fucking mastiffs. You can feed a cat on about 2 dollars a week.

    At the other end of the spectrum are situations that fall under various disorders and animal abuse. If you want to get really depressed watch an episode of Hoarders that features an animal hoarder. Heartbreaking. The person has no idea that they can’t take care of the 20+ cats in the home. It is a mental illness.

    Then there are the people that you discussed that acquire pets while indigent or irresponsibly breed poor quality puppy mill pets. I guess these fall somewhere between ignorance and malice. I understand the reasoning that the government has no role here. Charity often helps the homeless with their dogs’ food and vet bills. Sometimes these are homeless dogs that hook up with homeless people.

    In short, I don’t begrudge the family getting back on their feet spreading out the food stamps however they choose, but I don’t support government subsidizing abuse like you describe.

  2. Yes, but even in your hardline solution here I can’t play this out without imagining an expanded role of government. Your cure is worse than the disease.

    The child analogy doesn’t apply to food stamps, because what you’re referring to is the 200 dollar, per person, per month allowance for dependents in a household (at least in California). Food stamps are money given to people via a card that can only be used to purchase food. Even toiletries are not included and have to be purchased separately.

    So, the way I would approach this is whether it’s cheaper and better for us as a society to take animals away from their owners and house them in government shelters (the system we have now) or to add an amount to food stamps that would cover an animal hypothetically keeping them out of the pound.

    The “you can’t afford an animal” approach seems childish because you would need some form of governing body that determines your fitness to own an animal, and that requires more government. At least an expansion of animal control and the pound, and extra police or animal control for enforcement.

    Personally, if a state went with this measure I’d like to see an amendment to a bill of rights for animals. Most of the neglect you mention is caused because animals are considered property in the eyes of the law, and it makes the consequences for mistreating them no more than a scofflaw punishment.

    I think you could even add in incentives like rewarding people for rescuing with more of a subsidy to deter puppy mills, although I don’t know what on earth incentive would motivate people to breed animals based on the insane logic that they’d be rewarded with more cat food for doing so.

    Fox News tells its mindless drones the “government doesn’t work” mantra for decades, and what doesn’t really work are dumb fuck, head in the sand solutions that involve nothing more than a callous and impossible ideal and a hardline on tolerance.

  3. It says a lot about the state of things when opining that we shouldn’t create a new entitlement for animals is “hardline”. I’m not suggesting a solution to anything. I’m just saying that this is a bad one.

    Subsidizing pet ownership will result in increased demand for pets. There will be more puppy mills and there will be more animals in shelters. This is an awful idea for the animals.

  4. If you don’t have a solution then what are we talking about? If you don’t like this solution then sitting on the sidelines bitching about it doesn’t exactly change the course of action. Someone with an idea has worked this up the food chain, and if you don’t have a better idea you get this one.

    We already have an “entitlement” for animals, it’s the one that catches them and kills them if you don’t like their owner, or approve of the way they treat the animal. It’s called animal control.

    So, what’s wrong with a more compassionate use of the money you already are willing to piss away on an extra arm of government? Is the current entitlement not vindictive enough? If it isn’t, give animals expanded rights and increase the punishment for abuse. You can even call it a broken windows deterrent if it helps you bridge the mental gap with something you already approve of elsewhere.

    However, if your mentality, politically, is less government I think you can reduce the footprint here if you didn’t have people turning animals in, and didn’t have people going to jail for neglecting animals if the fix was an extra 30 dollars a month redeemable in cat food.

    If your only rebuttal is there will be more pets because of this make it contingent upon neutering the pets for the food stamps. Your local pound will do this for free as it stands right now, and if they don’t a pet shelter or college probably will.

    You’re conflating things that are not comparable. Food stamps = food from the government, not money from the government. If a person tried to have more pets with the idea that they’d get more money for this, they’d be wrong. They’d get more cat food.

  5. So, the way I would approach this is whether it’s cheaper and better for us as a society to take animals away from their owners and house them in government shelters (the system we have now) or to add an amount to food stamps that would cover an animal hypothetically keeping them out of the pound.

    I will go out on a limb and say that it is much cheaper to let people allocate their food stamp allotment to the feeding of pets. They already do it via cheap hamburger and rice or noodles. Throw in the green beans that junior won’t eat and you have a pretty good dog food. Cats will eat tuna and mackerel from a can.

  6. Well, pfluffy, my point is, one way or another the entitlement to feed pets already exists. If animal control comes and takes the pets due to neglect, they go to a pound where they are fed until their fate is decided.

    I know in bootstrappy, rugged individualist world, the shelter provides these animals with “Fox flakes” the completely American, completely privatized dog food source that is totally NOT purchased with your tax dollars, and comes complete with a screamin freedom bird on the bag. However, the reality is, whether the government buys dog food and feeds them in shelters, or you give the poor money for the dog food to try and forego the shelter, the government bought the dog food.

    It’s just a little pathetic, to me, to say “fuck entitlements” if it goes directly into the hand of the person that needs it, but be totally oblivious to the same entitlement as long as it goes in your acceptability black hole.

  7. I understand what you are saying. One way or another pets are being fed on the government dime. I support feeding animals. I took Thrill’s issue with it more along the lines of “hey, look at my new cat. Her name is pfluffy. I don’t have the money for cat food seeing as I was laid off last month, do you have some? I will be fine once my SNAP card fills up.”

    Still, you are right, it is pretty much the same as the cat lounging in the shelter waiting for someone that can afford it. A day which may never come. And solving that problem goes much deeper than access to cat food.

    They aren’t expensive animals to care for.

  8. That’s right. So, to me, as a taxpayer is it 30 dollars on a snap card or is it 30 dollars to the shelter, plus whatever the cost is to rent and maintain the shelter, plus whatever the cost is to pay for enforcemt (to take the animals) and the manpower to care for the animals in custody.

    You’d think this is a no brainer for small government types, but we got hung up on the same problem discussing universal pay. If universal pay eliminated every other entitlement like Medicare, welfare, social security, homeless stipends, wic, food stamps, section 8 housing and wrapped it all in a “here’s your entitlements” in ONE paycheck it would be a realistic smaller government Nirvana.

    Nope. The point seems to ultimately be having people suffer, and fighting losing battles that only expand government incrementally.

    It’s quite literally a right wing viewpoint to say “I’d rather pay to watch you suffer” even if there were a golden opportunity to fulfill your ideological goals, but in a way that everyone wins.

    Nope.

  9. Never thought I’d see the day of someone arguing for Welfare Dog Queens. “Why yes, i do have 30 cats, and love every one of them. Where’s my check?”

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