Tampa, Florida -- If you've hit hard times, you know it can be hard to feed yourself much less a four-legged friend. A new national group is trying to change that.

"It's aimed at preventing people from having to choose feeding themselves or having to surrender to a high kill shelter," Founder Mark Okon said.

It's called Pet Food Stamps. Okon launched the New York based non-profit two weeks ago. To qualify, families must prove they're receiving state assistance. If approved, they'll get a monthly allotment to spend at national retailer Pet Food Direct. Animal shelters nationwide say they hope this program will keep more animals with their families instead of their facilities.

To learn more about Pet Food Stamps or to make a donation, click here.

Marti Ryan, with Hillsborough County Animal Services, points outif youlive in Hillsborough County,there are other resources offered throughAnimal Services likethe county's low-cost spay/neuter voucher program which offers residents of Hillsborough on any form of public assistance or income restrictions a resource to get the one-time surgeries plus rabies shot and license tag -- all for just $10.

This surgery helps prevent certain cancers, keeps pets healthy, and ultimately deters pets from coming into shelters both for economic reasons and lowering pet overpopulation. Ryan saysthe shelter does assist needy petowners with food requests when donated resources are available.

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