Pet Abandonment Rises as Inflation Bites – But There’s Help

(AP) — As the cost of living rises, one American family member is at particular risk: pets. Faced with increasing pressure to maintain their household’s standard of living, many pet owners are abandoning their pets.

Expenses associated with pets are skyrocketing, from the daily cost of food to the unexpected shock of veterinary bills.

The phenomenon is not only observed in the United States, but also in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries. For many, the wave of abandonment signals a painful hard landing in the pandemic ‘pet boom’, which has seen record numbers of housebound people buying pets over the past two years.

There are many factors at play, but the most common reasons pet owners cited for visiting in a recent Forbes survey were a combination of the following: the rising cost of pet food, bills unaffordable veterinarians and the difficulty of finding pet-friendly residences when moving. residence.

While each poses challenges for pet owners, there are methods to manage costs and keep your pet in these turbulent times.

Locally, Pima Animal Care Shelter has oscillated between “extreme” and “critical” status throughout the year, offering frequent adoption specials in an effort to free up kennel space for newcomers.

PACC Animal Services Director Monica Dangler said the shelter’s approach is to place the most adoptable dogs into foster homes or new permanent homes, to free up resources for the most adoptable dogs. difficult to place in the shelter.

“With 519 dogs in the shelter, we need to create kennel space for the dogs,” Dangler said. “Having dogs on the euthanasia prevention list adopted, fostered, or sent away allows us to focus on finding homes for dogs that need more training, medical attention, or need a specific type of household.”

The shelter has not had to euthanize animals for lack of space since 2016.

Food costs

Pet food prices exceed normal inflation – a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “petflation”. US pet food inflation rose 9.1% in July this year from July 2021, slightly ahead of the 8.5% increase in the total consumer price index. consumption (CPI) last month.

There are several possible ways to make the cost of food manageable and essential to keep your pet alive.

Owners can consider getting the cheapest kibble possible, even if it means changing Fido’s preferred brand; it probably won’t hurt him. According to Joseph Bartges, veterinary nutritionist, little research indicates that more expensive pet foods provide better health outcomes. Bartges said this year that no conclusive studies have been done showing that food cost is a predictor of a pet’s health.

If the cheaper brands are still out of reach, there’s the human food option. Although a hotly debated topic, Bartges also says there is little evidence that moderate amounts are unhealthy for dogs, as long as owners avoid foods known to harm dogs (see this list ).

One potential solution is food banks, which are in high demand in the UK, where pet food has soared 15% since January. Charities like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) are now rushing to follow and team up with existing food banks which usually feed people to add pet food to their stock .

There are many similar services in the United States, also known as pet pantries. Owners looking for local food banks in their state can browse a directory of pet food banks across the country.

Vet bills sting

Rising medical costs put pets and families’ finances at risk.

Some alarming new survey results reveal just how ill-prepared pet owners are for rising medical costs. Forbes recently polled 2,000 cat and dog owners and found that 42% of caregivers can’t afford a surprise $1,000 vet bill.

One solution may be to purchase pet insurance. Unfortunately, although pet insurance has become increasingly popular in recent years, the vast majority – around 80% of owners – are still uninsured.

According to Forbes Advisor analysis, pet insurance costs an average of $35 per month for dogs and $28 per month for cats. These plans include accident and illness expenses, with annual coverage of $5,000.

Every pet owner must assess whether insurance is the right choice for them.

While this adds a little extra to the monthly budget, it prepares homeowners for worst-case scenarios. Still, if having insurance means the difference between keeping and giving up a pet during tough times, many owners will likely consider it worth it.

‘Pets are not allowed’

Housing is another major issue that separates pets from their owners.

As rents continue to soar, many pet owners are forced to downsize or relocate to more affordable neighborhoods, and their pets can’t always come with them. Finding a new pet-friendly residence can be difficult in the short term, which is why many owners are saying goodbye to their furry friends.

An animal shelter in Tucson reports that housing-related abandonments have tripled in the past year. Although it sounds disastrous, there are still ways to go.

Pet owners who are determined to bring their pets back to their new home can seek out temporary foster care programs offered by some shelters. With these arrangements, pet owners can leave their pets for several weeks or months while they put their house in order. Then, once they’ve moved into a new pet-friendly residence, they can bring their pet to their new home.

The wider community can also lend a hand. Landlords who aren’t restricted by rental agreements, for example, can offer to adopt or foster a pet from a shelter and give pets a fresh start.

A shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, KC Pet Project, is awash with incoming surrenders, expecting the total number to rise to 15,000 from around 10,000 in recent years. There are dozens of other shelters across the country like this.

“We need the community to help us through this — through adoptions, fostering, and just helping us save lives,” said Tori Fugate of KC Pet Project. “I strongly encourage you to reach out and get involved with your local shelter.”

As the economy moves from post-pandemic recovery heights to the brink of recession, many pet owners are finding their lives have become too unpredictable to commit to pet ownership. Unfortunately, many were unprepared for the volatility of our times and are now forced to make heartbreaking choices.

Pets are known to be fiercely loyal to their owners; many owners will go out of their way to keep them by their side.

By making wise choices in these trying times, pet owners can ease their burden and find ways to get through it.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

For more information on adopting a PACC dog for free from the “Euthanasia Prevention List,” visit the Pima Animal Care Center website.

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