This story, though, had a different twist. It told of our local county animal shelter and its difficultly dealing with a tremendous increase in its population.
It seems more and more pet owners are giving up their animals, mostly dogs and cats, and bringing them to the shelter. The strain on the shelter is great. On a single day they received 70 animals, raising their population to 350, far more than the number of kennels available. Some kennels housed two or even three dogs, creating health and fighting concerns. Another 200 former pets are being fostered.
The reasons for the drop-offs are many, but rarely is it because of a person’s desire to rid him or herself of a pet. The most common explanations follow from increased financial demands.
They, the pet owners, have been hit with a huge increase in rent and there no longer is enough money for the pet.
They don’t have the funds to buy pet food because of spiraling inflation.
They are evicted.
They are forced to move, and the new place doesn’t allow pets, or only small pets, or charges extra for a pet.
They have to move in with family
They can’t afford veterinary bills.
Most reasons, therefore, reflect the realities of insufficient funds.
It is true that keeping a pet is expensive. I’m sure some would say that you should get one only if you can afford it. I have seen statements that before you get a dog you should make sure you can afford $1500 a year for its care. I think that’s on the low side. A single emergency can incur a bill of several thousand dollars.
I find this disturbing. Is pet ownership yet another joy that can be afforded only by the sufficiently well off? This just isn’t right. Everyone should have the ability to enjoy a pet without having to give up their own food.
This hit me especially when considering all the recent transfers to the county shelter.
It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like for those in circumstances such that the slightest shift in economic reality would force them to give up the family pet.
I can imagine the difficulties of daily life for people living on the edge would create a home atmosphere of constant tension with little or no comfort sources. Except possibly the dog or other pet.
Think about it. Life is a constant battle for so many. Money is always scarce. Health insurance is an unaffordable luxury. The keeping of an overhead roof hangs by a thread. There is barely enough money for food, let alone a child’s birthday gift or gas for the car. Or an animal. Then without expecting it the limited resources suddenly must be stretched even further.
Judging from the shelter’s experience, the only answer seems to be to give up the pet, quite possibly the only source of love and comfort in the home.
Can you imagine how difficult it must be to say goodbye to your good and loyal friend, not knowing how you will survive without him or what kind of future life you have subjected him to? It is their last act of love for him when they take him to the shelter instead of dumping him somewhere to fend for himself.
It isn’t right that this is necessary.
Just as so much else isn’t right these days.