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Pets: Victims Of Our Down Economy

Updated on May 29, 2011

Fluffy & Spot- The Most Recent Victims of our Down Economy

Household pets are the most recent victims of our down economy. Some pet owners can no longer afford proper care and feeding, more animals are being abandoned, animal shelters are experiencing overcrowding & under funding and pet thefts are on the rise.

This is very concerning for the 75 million pet dogs and 88 million pet cats in the United States. Between 30% -40% of all US households have at least one pet.

Pet Owners Can’t Afford Proper Care

In 2007, we spent $41.2 billion on household pets in the United States. The lion share was $16.2B on food, $10.1B on vet care and $9.8B on supplies.

According to the 2007-2008 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, basic annual expenses per each dog owned were $1,425 and $990 per cat.

With the worsening economic conditions, pet owners are making difficult choices. Some are simply spending less on their pets, sometimes bypassing check-ups, vaccinations and proper treatment of health conditions. Others are making the difficult choice to surrender their pet to a shelter and hope that someone else will adopt them.

With the number of foreclosures rising, some owners are abandoning their pets, leaving them behind when they vacate their home with minimal food and water. Some die, while the number of stray animals rise.

Economy Bites for Pets- News Video

The Animal Shelter Situation

In the United States, there are an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Animal Shelters in operation. (Because there is no official oversight or regulation body, there are no official statistics available). Pet surrenders at shelters are continually increasing, while donations to non-profits are decreasing. This is a combustible combination causing strain and overcrowding at many animal shelters. Many shelters, once they run out of cages, have no other options other than euthanization. On average, shelters have to euthanize est 60% of all animals due to health conditions, lack of adoption and space issues.

How can you help most??

1) Make a donation. Most shelters today have set up easy online systems for you to donate using a credit card or mail a check. This allows them to take care of the growing number of animals surrendered each month. In the U.S., donations are tax deductible.

2) Donate supplies. Each shelter has different needs but most need dry or canned pet food, cat litter, toys, blankets, dog collars & leashes and bones/treats.

Did you know that there are two types of animal shelters; municipal and private? Municipal shelters are run by a city, county or other public entity and are funded by taxpayer dollars. They are often linked with or run by the the Animal Control Officer and their primary role, as defined by municipal code, is “to pick up stray and nuisance animals and reunite lost animals with their owners.” Most municipal shelters also take in animals surrendered by pet owners.

A private shelter is funded by private donations and exists to provide a safe haven for lost or displaced animals. Its primary job is to find homes for these animals. This type of facility is staffed by employees and volunteers.

Pet Thefts Are Up

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in some cases this means stealing someone else’s pet to re-sell and make money. Most at risk are toy breeds, puppies and expensive purebreads.

Criminals have been caught selling dogs on the side of the road, at flea markets and using online classifieds like Craig’s list. Sometimes these stolen dogs end up in the hands of illegal dog-fighting rings or medical research-testing institutions.

Here are some tips for pet owners to help protect your animals:

√ Padlock gates, and make sure people can't access your pets over fences.

√ Keep your pet on a leash whenever you go outside.

√ Keep your pet indoors, especially when you are not at home.

√ Identify your pet with a collar and tag, microchip or tattoo.

√ Be aware of strangers in the neighborhood, and report anything unusual to the police

√ Know where your pets are at all times.

√ Support the federal Pet Safety and Protection Act and the FARM Bill in place to prevent Class B dealers and unlicensed individuals from selling dogs and cats to laboratories, and prevent stray animals from being sold for this purpose.


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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I know it's sad how many dogs and cats go to shelters. The problem now adopting from a shelter they want an arm and leg before they will let you adopt. You have to take proof you own a home or that your landlord will let you have a pet, credit report, proof of vet visits, home inspections before and after you adopt and not to mention the amount of money they want.

      Interesting hub. Voted up.

    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 6 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Nice information on this hub. I love to read this.

    • profile image

      Mona, from Mpls 8 years ago

      I am having a hard time meeting ends meet for my kat. I have almost 2 weeks until my next paycheck, and one day of food for her. the LAST thing I would do is give her back - b/c I got her from the H.S. - but how can I fill the void between now and then? Seems from your post, there is no other option.

    • Reynolds_Writing profile image

      Reynolds_Writing 8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for your comment. That is so sad!

    • Eternal Evolution profile image

      Eternal Evolution 8 years ago from kentucky

      I had someone abandon a small dog on my property yesterday morning. It's so sad, poor little guy seems like a really nice dog too.He's actuly sleping under my chair as I'm tyoing this.