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Family pets feel the financial crisis, too

Family pets feel the financial crisis, tooCheryl Lang spends her days inspecting foreclosed homes. Business is picking up for her lately. But when she walked into the backyard of an Arkansas home, she discovered something that probably made her wish she’d taken the day off. Three dogs, locked in their pet carriers, had been left behind by the evicted homeowners. Without food or water, all three died.

Unfortunately, their fate is shared by many animals around the country. Of course, this happens even in more robust economies–people move out of town and abandon the inconvenient family pets. But at times like this, when families can’t pay their mortgage and put food on the table, it’s not likely the dogs are going to eat well, either.

Animal welfare organizations all over the United States are reporting increasing numbers of these cases. In a cruel twist, the financial strain that makes more people turn over Fido to the pound means that fewer people are adopting, as well (some shelters are releasing animals at lower adoption fees because of this). The economic crisis is affecting dogs and cats, of course, but also more exotic–and expensive–animals, such as horses, cows and llamas. And don’t forget the chickens and reptiles.

Some of these animals are being taken to already over-burdened shelters (about half of the nation’s 4-6 million shelter pets are euthanized every year). According to a horse-rescue organization in Massachusetts, they have 43% more animals this year, which cost several hundred dollars a month to keep. But they are the lucky ones. Many other pets are simply abandoned on the streets. Worse yet, some are left to starve locked up in the foreclosed house.

Because of what she has seen, Cheryl Lang founded No Paws Left Behind to take in the homeless animals. And as animal rights advocates will tell you, even if they are going to be put down, it is a better choice to surrender your pets to a shelter instead of leaving them behind to die. Besides the fact that they will suffer a painful death, it is illegal. Some parents may be afraid their kids will not be able to deal with taking their beloved pet to the shelter, feeling it will be simpler to just leave quietly and tell the kids something later. But it won’t be any easier for the kids to deal with their animal’s disappearance at the new home. In fact, it may be harder if they don’t have a chance to say goodbye.


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