PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – If forced to choose between feeding your children or pet, what choice would you make? Some families affected by the government shutdown might be living this reality right now.

That’s why local pet rescues want to get the word out: They can help, and others can too.

The devoted gaze with which our furry friends look up to us says it all. Caring for them can be costly, especially when the paychecks stop printing.

“I got a text… my cousin has three kids, two dogs, can’t afford food. Is there any way you can help?” said Robyn Urman of Pet ResQ, Inc. “His wife is disabled, and he’s out of work, not getting a paycheck… all of the sudden, I went ‘ding ding ding,’ he can’t be alone.”

MORE INFO: Pet ResQ, Inc. | PetValu | Liberty Humane Society

Urman says last year her organization rescued 517 dogs. Since January 1, there have been 21 surrendered to her care.

“This year, the numbers have been astonishing. The worst year ever, ever,” she said.

Her hope is no more pets will need rescuing as a result of the government shutdown. That’s why she’s spearheading collection efforts for pet essentials. You can drop off pet supplies at PetValu stores across Bergen County, and they’ll end up in the paws of those affected by the government shutdown.

“We’re hoping we’re going to be able to save the family dog,” said volunteer David Rudd.

Urman also gave CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock a tip on where pet owners going without that government paycheck can get more help: the Liberty Humane Society.

“We can provide supplies, food, medical help people need so they can keep their pets even though their income has been cut off,” said Director of Operations Kim Saunders.

Their PET owner Assistance Program is available to residents of Jersey City, Bayonne & Hoboken.

The rescues aim to offer assistance first, so furry friends can stay in their “furever” homes.

If you’re a family affected by the shutdown, you can pick up the donated pet supplies at the PetValu in Garwood. Make sure to bring your government identification.