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Animals Suffer as Effects of Recession Linger

It's well known that many people have abandoned their pets due to financial hardships imposed by the Great Recession. It's also well known that, whether...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 2nd 2010


It’s well known that many people have abandoned their pets due to financial hardships imposed by the Great Recession. It’s also well known that, whether or not the recession is technically over and the gross domestic product is growing or shrinking, many folks are still suffering from hard times. So I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that pets are still being abandoned and shelters are still being overwhelmed.

From an article in the January 21, 2010 Economist.

As the number of job losses and foreclosures has mounted over the past two years, some people have chosen to surrender their animals, unable to afford pet food let alone veterinary care. Many have brought their dogs and cats to shelters. Some have been less kind, chaining them to fences or locking them inside their foreclosed homes. One kitten was even left in a mailbox in Boston.

Looking after these pets is becoming more challenging because many shelters rely on government money and have seen their funding cut. Animal Care and Control of New York City, for example, saw its grant fall by over $750,000 this fiscal year, around 7% of its operating budget. Fewer people are coming forward to make donations.

The article goes on to point out there are some silver linings on the clouds. As with many other times of hardship, resourceful people are working on clever ways to address the problem.

Some non-profits are trying to step in and encourage people not to abandon their furry friends at shelters in the first place. Pet-food banks, which give pet food to people in need, have sprung up across the country.

One non-profit organisation, Pilots N Paws, connects pilots to shelters with dogs that have not found homes. The pilots volunteer to fly them to other states, giving them a second chance at adoption.

The internet is playing its part. One organisation, ForeclosurePets.org, runs an online billboard that allows people facing foreclosure to find a home for their pet. Adopt-a-pet.com uses its website to help shelters advertise and send e-mail alerts when certain types of animals come in. By the end of 2009 8,500 animal shelters were using the site to post adoption listings for 140,000 pets, up from 6,800 shelters and 98,000 listings at the beginning of the year. Now all that is needed is 140,000 good homes.