Poor economy hurts dogs and cats too

A poor economy means that more pets are ending up in animal shelters than ever before. Shelters all across the nation report rising populations, as people surrender their dogs and cats in record numbers. And, as people hold on tighter to their purse strings, shrinking donations are leaving animal shelters with fewer resources to care for this growing surplus.

Pet food banks are becoming necessary resources for struggling pet owners. (Photo courtesy of the

Pet food banks are becoming necessary resources for struggling pet owners. (Photo courtesy of the SPCA of Monterrey County.)

While animal shelters are hurting financially and reeling from growing populations under their roofs, they are also trying to come up with a few solutions to help struggling pet owners with, at least, the basic necessities. In some cities, like Seattle, WAHouston and Austin, TX, Atlanta, GA, and Monterrey, CA, shelters have either created pet food banks or are working hand-in-hand with local human food banks to make sure people in need get food to feed their pets.

“We’re seeing more people this year surrendering their pets because they can’t afford to keep them,” says Beth Brookhouser, director of community relations for the SPCA of Monterey County in California. “By providing pet food for a month or so, we can help keep pets with their families.”

One woman in Atlanta, who was facing hard times of her own, established a pet food bank to help others feed and keep their pets. And the Houston Food Bank received a $9,000 in pet food donations to distribute to pet owners in need.

Some people losing their homes, however, are moving into rental properties, which will likely have pet deposits or restrictions on the type and number of pets you can have. Some things are negotiable though: ask if your pet deposit can be spaced out over the term of the lease. That will make it easier for you to pay, and some rental managers are willing to do that if you sign at least a one year lease.

Not wanting to euthanize the increasing number of animals in their care, some shelters are expanding their foster care services. The Arizona Animal Welfare League has been seeking foster families solely for the purpose of enabling them to take in more pets affected by the economic crisis.

If you are a pet owner who needs help, call your local humane society to see what types of programs are available in your community. Or, if you have space, offer to foster pets to help the local shelter with the overflow. It’s very sad to see people lose their jobs or their homes; it’s even sadder to see them have to give up their pets too.

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