(WASHINGTON)—As inflation pushes prices higher, many families across the country are struggling to afford veterinary care, food and supplies for their beloved pets. Nowhere is this more acute than for families who were already experiencing systemic poverty. According to the latest consumer price index, the cost of pet products and services is up by more than 9% year over year. With more than 20 million pets living in poverty—a number three times greater than the number of pets entering shelters every year—this is a long overlooked national crisis. People are often forced to choose between meeting their own needs and the needs of their pets, and too often they completely lack access to veterinary care, pet inclusive housing, and other vital pet resources like food and supplies. No family should ever be in this position.

To address this issue, the Humane Society of the United States has launched a new campaign called More Than a Pet to raise awareness and provide solutions to increase access and keep families and their pets together, happy and healthy. Smalls, a company that delivers customized, high-protein cat food to customers, is sponsoring the More Than a Pet campaign at the Champion Partner level. Smalls has contributed $50,000 and is donating $1 million worth of cat food to communities in need.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We welcome Smalls as a partner in support of More Than a Pet, our campaign focused on making underserved pets happy and healthy. Smalls is donating up to $1 million in pet food to help feed cats in underserved communities. This tremendous gift will help so many cats and give peace of mind to the families who love them.”

“We’ve seen firsthand how happy and healthy cats can vastly improve the lives of the people who care for them,” said Smalls co-founder and CEO Matt Michaelson. “We’re so thrilled to support More Than a Pet in their efforts to bridge the pet equity gap, and to help provide families and cats with the proper care and love that they deserve. “

Over the past 20 years, the HSUS has helped nearly half a million pets and their families by providing veterinary care and supplies at no cost, through its Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services programs. Families like Sonia and her three cats—Minnie, Grisi and Megara—rely on the services of Pets for Life in Los Angeles, which has provided spay/neuter and vaccinations to the three cats.  When Minnie started having trouble breathing, Sonia knew she could reach out to the Pets for Life team for support. Minnie was diagnosed with asthma and Pets for Life provided the medication that has made a huge difference in her health, giving Sonia peace of mind.

“I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the help you’ve given my Minnie,” said Sonia, whose grandson is best friends with her sweet feline companion.

Without these services, families like Sonia’s are often forced to make difficult choices about sacrificing their own needs, even food and medications for themselves, to prioritize care for their pet. More Than a Pet will build on the legacy of Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services to help more families like Sonia’s. Grammy-winning musician Mya is also supporting the campaign along with her dogs Tango, Jemma and Jax and her cat Journey.

As part of More Than a Pet, the HSUS and Smalls are offering these tips for people to support their communities:

  • Advocate for keeping pets and their people together by signing the HSUS petition to close the pet equity gap. Your voice can make a big impact for all animals.
  • Volunteer with the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services programs, which increase access to pet care for underserved communities.
  • Donate pet food to your local shelter or pet food pantry.
  • If you know of a neighbor in need, offer to help drive them to a veterinary appointment, foster their pet temporarily or provide their pet’s favorite food to help close the access to pet care gap.
  • The HSUS is inviting the public to show their support for this campaign by sharing why their animal companion is #MoreThanAPet to them, at morethanapet.humanesociety.org. Campaign partner Smalls is donating a bowl of food for every photo shared, up to $1 million, to pets and their families in need.

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