Spend a Penny, Save a Life

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What if you could spend just one penny and alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of animals You’d probably do it in a heartbeat, right? The good news is, there’s a project dedicated to doing just that.

PennyFix, founded in 2017 by five women in Central Pennsylvania, is lobbying the pet food industry to add just 1 cent to the cost of each can of pet food sold in the United States. That money would be used to provide free spay/neuter services for every cat and dog in the United States, as well as rabies and distemper vaccines, all for free. This includes unaltered pets, strays, feral cats and animals in adoption centers.

The inspiration for PennyFix came from years of watching the population of unwanted cats and dogs grow well beyond the capacity of the existing shelter system to provide needed care.

“Even if the shelter system was coming closer to keeping pace with the growth in the unwanted cat and dog population, more shelters does not necessarily lead to more animals finding permanent homes,” says PennyFix Founder Lynn Stitt. “Given this environment, we firmly believe that a new approach is necessary to address the problem. That is where PennyFix comes in.”

The effect

How would 1 cent per can make even a dent in the ever-growing problem of unaltered animals? According to the American Pet Products Association, people spent $29.07 billion on cat food in 2017. Although the organization didn’t break that amount down between dry and wet food, if we assume that half of that $29.07 billion, or about $14.5 billion, was spent on wet food, that would mean $145 million to be spent relieving the suffering of unsterilized animals every year.

Assuming a spay at a low-cost clinic is $100 and a neuter is $50, that breaks down to almost 100,000 animals spayed or neutered, and vaccinated, every year. And that’s just with the funds from canned cat food.

If you add funds from the sales of canned dog food, the number of animals that could be helped could at least double.

For more information about PennyFix and to sign a petition in support of the initiative, visit the organization’s website at pennyfix.org, or follow them on Facebook @PennyFix2017 and on Instagram @pennyfix2017.

A positive reception

Pet food manufacturers see the benefit in PennyFix. “While our contact with pet food manufacturers and distributors, to date, has been limited, our proposal has been well-received,” Lynn says. But “our greatest immediate challenge is gaining access to the decision-makers at the major pet food manufacturing companies.” The goal is to get pet food manufacturers to understand that the additional penny won’t affect their bottom line and that supporting PennyFix is good public relations as well.

Pet owners have also been enthusiastic about PennyFix. “Many pet owners and pet lovers participate in activities that assist abused, abandoned and sick animals, and understand firsthand the need to stop the unnecessary killing of unwanted cats and dogs,” Lynn says. “They clearly see PennyFix as a humane way to reach that goal.”

free spay/neuter services

PennyFix members attend animal-friendly events to create awareness and get support.

Raising awareness

PennyFix has been active on many fronts to make people aware of its initiative. But in order to get buy-in from pet food manufacturers, those companies need to know that pet owners would be willing to pay an extra penny per can of cat food (that would be $1 for every 100 cans of cat food you buy).

To that end, PennyFix has petitions available on its website. “By signing the petition, you help PennyFix show the pet food manufacturers and distributors that their customers are in favor” of paying an extra penny per can of food to support spay/neuter services for every animal in the United States.

PennyFix members also attend animal-friendly events to solicit support and gather additional petition signatures. The organization also does outreach to well-known celebrities and animal rescue and shelter groups making them aware of PennyFix and asking for their active support. “Most recently, we have been speaking to community organizations about this initiative and asking for their help to make it a reality,” Lynn says.

How you can help

Ultimately, it’s all about us as pet guardians stepping up to the plate. “This program would not use government money or money from non-pet owners,” Lynn says. “It’s animal people taking care of the animal problem.”

First, sign the petition on the PennyFix website to show your support. Then, if you’re connected with decision makers in the pet food industry, and you believe in the PennyFix mission, arrange an introduction between PennyFix and that individual so they can discuss the project in more depth.

Read Next: Have You Ever Helped a Feral Cat Become a House Cat?

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