The day will be recognized with pet food distribution events and a social media campaign to raise funds for the cause
PetSmart Charities has launched an inaugural Pet Hunger Awareness Day that will take place on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, and going forward, occur annually on the last Tuesday of September.1 With 34 million people in the United States identified as food insecure,2 the issue of hunger trickles down to their pets. The awareness holiday was created to educate others on the prevalence of food insecurity in animals and its repercussions.
Oftentimes, families experiencing food insecurity must make the decision to relinquish their pets to already overcrowded shelters. A PetSmart Charities survey also found that 83% of pet owners would forgo their own meals to ensure their pet has enough to eat.3
"We know that circumstances change, but that shouldn't mean that it is difficult to feed our pets. They're important family members and we believe everyone deserves the love of a pet," said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities, in an organizational release.1 "We're passionate about keeping pets together with their families because it's better for the health of pets and their pet parents. Lending a hand to families in their time of need helps ensure pets stay in homes where they're loved and out of shelters. We're excited to announce this special awareness day to draw attention to this issue and invite others to contribute to solutions."
PetSmart Charities has invited the public to engage in a new social media campaign, the "Dinner Dance Challenge." For every photo or video posted on Instagram of a pet doing their dinner dance with the hashtag #dinnerdanceforpets between September 18 to 26, 2023, one of its partners will donate $2, up to a maximum of $10,000, to PetSmart Charities. The same partner will also match individual donations made to petsmartcharities.org up to $40,000 throughout September.1
This Pet Hunger Awareness Day, PetSmart Charities is teaming up with Feeding America to distribute pet food, in addition to human food, to feed families in need. Feeding America affiliates and volunteers at Feeding Tampa Bay in Florida; St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona; Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver, Colorado; and San Antonio Food Bank in Texas, will partake in these pet food distribution events.1
"When families are food insecure, so are their pets," said Diane Letson, vice president of food industry partnerships at Feeding America, in the release. "Pet Hunger Awareness Day shines a light on this critical issue as our thriving partnership continues to make an impact across the nation. We are grateful for partners like PetSmart Charities who share in our mission and whose contributions make a meaningful difference for neighbors facing hunger. The compassionate distribution of pet food right alongside human food at our local partner food banks ensures families and their pets are not only nourished, but they also stay together."