Dogs and the Economy

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Our country has some serious problems these days. Families are struggling with job loss, gas and utility increases, food costs that continue to rise, and threat of foreclosure and/or bankruptcy. Caught in the midst of this, quite often, are the family pets. When trying to choose between feeding your family and feeding the pet, it is fairly obvious who is going to win. Many people are facing the difficult decision of giving up a pet that may have been a family member for years or being able to pay the monthly bills.  Where do you turn?  What do you do?  In many cases, the first thought that runs through the minds of those faced with making this decision, is to turn the animal over to the local Animal Control Center.  However, it is important to note that shelters are suffering, too.

They are being inundated with pets people can no longer afford to keep. More relinquished pets means more mouths to feed, the need for more space to house the animals and the need for more people to care for them. Donations, on which so many rescue groups depend, are down, forcing those groups to have to make decisions to accept fewer animals or to shorten the length of time they keep the animal before facing the inevitable. Animals that once would have stood a good chance of being adopted are faced with more competition and as a result, many face the possibility of being euthanized.

An even sadder fact is that the animals that find their way to rescue organizations are the lucky ones. Sometimes people, out of desperation, release their animal thinking that “someone will find him and take care of him”. They reason that “at least he’ll have a chance”. A more likely scenario is that the pet will face a long painful death by starvation or be hit by a car. As depressing as all this is, there are steps we can take to help alleviate the problem.

If you are in a stable financial situation, you can help by:

  • Making monetary donations to rescue groups
  • Donate bags of dog or cat food
  • Donate used blankets
  • Volunteer at a rescue facility
  • Provide toys or treats for the animals
  • If you are involved with an organization or club, start a “Help the Animals” drive
  • Consider fostering a pet until a permanent home can be found
  • If you are looking for a pet—adoptfunny-dog-pictures-opt-adoptThere are thousands of wonderful mixed breed pets out there, all looking for a home.  If you are set on having a pure bred animal, there are numerous opportunities to adopt pure bred dogs by checking with rescue groups of the breed which interests you.

If you are in a situation where you are concerned about how to care for your pet or that you may have to give it up, there is assistance available:

  • Check here for low cost immunization clinics in your area or check with your local humane association
  • Affordable spay and neuter clinics are available. Check here to find one near you.  Check online for discount coupons to assist in paying for spay and neutering surgery in your community
  • Click here for a state by state listing of pet food pantries
  • Consider placing your pet in a temporary home with a friend or relative until you are financially able to care for it again
  • If you feel you can no longer care for your pet, abandonment is not the answer! Your pet has come to depend on you for food and shelter. It lacks the skills to care for itself and inevitably will face an untimely end if left to fend for itself. Your responsibility as a pet owner is to care for your pet throughout its life. If it becomes impossible for you to do that, it is your responsibility to give your pet every possible opportunity to find a safe, new forever home.

If you must relinquish your pet, you can increase its chances for adoption if:

  • It is spayed or neutered
  • It is house-broken
  • It has some basic obedience training
  • You provide a detailed history of the pet’s medical records
  • Provide its age
  • Tell the rescue agency about its temperament
  • Let the agency know how gets along with children, other animals, etc.
  • Make the rescue agency aware of any special need it might have

Undoubtedly these are difficult times.  We must all do the things that we feel we have to do to survive.  However, the pets that we have chosen to bring into our lives deserve to have responsible assessments made in their behalf.  Take the time to do the best you can for your pet, whatever that happens to be.  You’ll feel better about the choices you make for your family and you pet, and your pet will benefit from well thought out decisions.

The average dog has one request to all humankind. Love me.

Helen Exley

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