(CBS News) SALEM, Ore. - Tough economic times in recent years have led to heartbreaking decisions for many pet owners. But now, there may be more help on the way.
Marissa Jenkins' 6-year-old Dachshund, Olivia, is more than a dog.
"She's been part of our family, she's definitely not a dog," Jenkins said. "She's a kid to us."
Recently, the Salem, Ore., family welcomed a new addition - and a new challenge.
"My husband lost his job in February and we just had a baby in December, and so all the costs of having a baby and a dog and a family is adding up," she said.
Now on food stamps, they turned to a non-profit for help to feed their dog because food stamps cannot be used for pet food.
Launched in February, Pet Food Stamps has received over to 160,000 applications from needy families across the country. Marc Okon is the charity's founder.
"Hundreds of thousands of pets a year are put to sleep, simply because the owners can't feed them," Okon said.
Okon says dog and cat owners on public assistance are eligible. He's partnered with a company called Pet Flow to provide free delivery.
" It was a relief for us that we were able to get some help for our dog and because we couldn't provide for her, somebody else could," Jenkins said, wiping away tears.
While Marissa is grateful for the free pet food, there's an even more valuable benefit.
"We wanted our child to be able to grow up with animals and our dog is really great with her," she said.
Once back on their feet, the Jenkins say they will donate to the program to help other families in need.