One thing that most Americans have in common, one thing that we take for granted even, is that of pet ownership. Most of us have enjoyed the companionship of pets our entire life, without giving much thought to the expense of their maintenance. The economy has changed our perspective and given pet owners cause to look at the expense. More and more pet owners are having to make an unprecedented, and agonizing, decision in the current economy; do we keep the family pets or do we give the pets to animal shelters?
The economy has made it impossible for some pet owners to able to afford to feed their pets, let alone be able to afford the expense of veterinarian care for aging pets or pets in poor health. With no national database collecting the number of pets being taken in by animal shelters or the reason pet owners are giving up their pets, there is no way to know for certain if the economy is entirely to blame, but the trend can’t be ignored. The worse the economy gets, the more pets end up at animal shelters.
Pet owners are embarrassed to admit they can no longer afford to feed and care for their pets, but they’re not alone. Multitudes of pet owners across the nation have made, or are facing, the same decision. Animal shelters are receiving the non-traditional type of pets, not the neighborhood strays, not the ‘oops’ litter of kittens or puppies, but purebred, obedience trained dogs. Pets that have obviously received much love and care from their owners.
In today’s economy, the choice to give pets to animal shelters often comes down to the lowest common denominator – who will eat today, the pet owners or the pets. That’s the tough situation that the economy has put many pet owners in, and tough times call for tough decisions. The average annual cost of owning a dog is $1,400, for a cat it’s about $1,000, sometimes the pets have to be given up so the family can buy gas to heat their home.
The economy is having a ripple effect with pets on the losing side. The economy causes pet owners to not be able to afford to keep their pets, the animal shelters are overflowing and having to turn animals away because of the influx of pets and lack of potential pet adopters. The surrendered pets are being euthanized at a faster pace by animal shelters due to lack of funding and space.
Emergency animal shelters have begun to pop up to provide temporary food, shelter and medical care to pets whose owners who are suffering financially in this economy. It’s only a temporary fix, but for some pet owners, it gives them time to get back on their feet financially and reclaim their beloved pets.