During these tough times, the local food banks are providing an invaluable service for many families and it's great to have them available.

There's also a move to have food banks provide food for pets. Some food banks have been receptive and actually have a shelf for pet food.

But other food banks have rejected the proposal.

We realize it's probably difficult just getting food for needy families without having to worry about pets. On the other hand, pets can be very important to the family. They're companions. They teach responsibility. They give affection.

While food banks must keep their priorities on feeding families, if donations are received they should allow pet food donations – specifically food for dogs and cats.

Feeding their pets is as important for families as feeding the other family members.

We hope shelves for pet food are added to food banks which presently don't have such services.

Pets don't qualify as income tax deductions. They might not sit at the dinner table with the rest of the family.

But this doesn't diminish their role as loyal companions and even protectors in many households.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com