Is The Poor Economy Even Affecting Pet Owners?

17 11 2010

As the economy continues to take its time to turn around, more and more pet owners are forced to choose between caring for their families and caring for their pets. Animal shelters, veterinarians and other pet experts are seeing a growing trend of what some are calling the “economic euthanasia” of pets, as many are opting to have their family pets put to sleep because they are unable to financially care for them anymore.

Because of the current economic conditions, pet owners are being forced to make difficult and even painful choices where their pets are concerned; choices that include anything from giving their pet away to friends or family, surrendering their pet to a local animal shelter or having their pets euthanized.

Vets See Economic Euthanasia On The Rise

In vet hospitals, particularly those who offer emergency services, there is a steady rise in pets being brought in who need to be euthanized because of extensive injury or terminal illness. While this may not be an alarming fact, what IS disturbing is the number of animals being euthanized because owners are no longer able to care for them.

The Flip Side of Economic Euthanasia

Still some pet owners are choosing another method of dealing with their pet’s injuries and illnesses, both common and terminal. Something even more bizarre than having the animal put down: they are choosing, instead, to take their pet home without having it treated at all.  And the reason for this behavior? Financial difficulties.  

Shelters and Humane Societies are Seeing More Owner Surrenders

Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg, Virginia, for example,  is just one of the many groups seeing a vast increase in owner surrenders. Just one day in November saw thirteen owner surrenders versus fourteen in the entire month of January. Still need further proof of this ever-increasing situation? The HHS manages to adopt between 80 and 90 animals per month – but has an intake of an average of 115. I’m no math wizard but this adds up to a huge problem that must be solved quickly.

What Can Be Done?

Plenty! These animals don’t need to be separated from their families and they certainly don’t need to be euthanized because of a family’s financial situation. More needs to be done to stress responsible pet ownership. More needs to be done to stress the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Local animal shelters, humane societies and other animal welfare agencies need to do more to offer resources for families who are truly in need.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be a responsible pet owner. If your family is already suffering from the current economic downturn, don’t add to the stress by bringing a four-legged mouth to feed into your home and hope you can rely on others to help you keep it. This is a recipe for disaster and the animal will end up in a local shelter or worse. Choose your pets wisely. If there is a chance you are going to move to a place that doesn’t welcome pets, begin working with your local humane society to have your pet re-homed.

The point I am trying to make here is this: you HAVE options. Your pet didn’t ask to be put into this situation and he or she shouldn’t have to suffer from consequences of which they have no control.



8 responses

17 11 2010

This is the “change we all believed in” and who got the short end of the stick? The dogs and cats and other fur babies who are so much a part of our families! When this economy started the downturn I suspected that pets would suffer but I had HOPED that it would NOT evolve into this horrid situation! Many put these changes in office in order to slap Palin for the wolves which was only an animal control measure just as deer hunting season is in swing now in many states. IF folks would open their minds and watch the documentary about Alaska, it would be QUITE obvious that Palin stands in awe of the animals and teaches her kids that they must respect them and care about keeping them alive! This is not meant to be a political commentary but the two situations intertwine so tightly, it is tough to ignore this! I believe that someone who lives with wildlife is more in tune with the plight of animals than urbanites! Lesson: Be NOT myopic and believe everything politicians say and promise…….check them out and their voting records before putting them into office! IF we sink in the economy, how much more will our pets suffer abuse, neglect, and even death!

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18 11 2010
Robin Dunbar

I know this is not going to be a popular comment, but I think it needs to be said. With the economic downturn, and perhaps even before, small animal vets have gone through the roof in cost of care. My large animal vet (for my horse), will… drive an hour and a half, give all shots (and horses get many), exam, float teeth (with sedation), clean sheath all for $370…and apologizes for having to charge a trip fee.

My small animal vet charges me to drive to his facility and walk my dog into an exam room. My horse trainer’s son is a vet and went in to small animal versus large animal practice…why?…because there’s more money in treating small animals.

Although I totally agree with responsible pet ownership, small animal vets make it impossible for people to “do the right thing.” Thank God we can afford the high vet bills for our small animals but I think to myself, “How in the world can the average family afford to take care of their animals veterinary care?”

Sorry for the long comment but I get so angry with vets that only look at the money-end of animal care instead of working with people during this difficult economic time. Veterinarians take an oath, as do physicians, but that doesn’t seem to come in to play with regard to the bill. These are difficult times. Desperate people do desperate things. I just think vets could be a little more flexible to help people trying to help their animals.See More

18 11 2010


You certainly bring up a valid point one that certainly should be considered and re-visited and a sidebar topic for this post. There is no apology needed for your thoughts or feelings – it takes all opinions being discussed to get things done and truly make a difference. Watch for a new blog post on this very topic coming soon. Thank you for posting and I hope you will be a continuing contributor to our posts.

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