Animal Advocate: Hard Times for Animals, TooMar 15th, 2010 | By Jennifer Clarke | Category: Pets
These hard economic times are having an impact on the animals as well.
Dealing with job losses, home foreclosures, and uncertainty of what the future holds is forcing many families to make difficult decisions. More pets are being surrendered, and fewer impounded pets are being reclaimed.
Last year at Animal Control, we saw a marked increase in horse neglect and abandonment. The most poignant case was that of an elderly, starving mare dumped at a local trailhead. Her medical conditions were untreatable, and she had to be euthanized.
The problems started when the price of hay skyrocketed, partly due to higher fuel costs. The market for horses plummeted. There were already too many horses due to overbreeding. Add financial difficulty for the horse owner, and one has a perfect storm for a crisis in the equine world. People can no longer afford their horses but there is nowhere for these animals to go. Regional rescue groups are trying to place or take as many horses as they can, but are overwhelmed.
The situation with dogs and cats is also grave. Just as with their own health care, many people are foregoing routine examinations and preventive medications for their pets. Local rescue groups are feeling the pinch, as more people are giving up dogs and cats because they can’t afford them, or can’t take them when forced to move.
Neglect and cruelty is also on the rise. Our officers are investigating more cases of animals receiving inadequate care or simply being left behind when people move. The whole animal welfare community is struggling to care for more and more four-legged victims of this economic downturn.
Exacerbating the problem is that there are fewer adoptive homes available, and donations to charitable groups have dropped dramatically. At a time when humane societies and rescue groups are needed most, they are running out of money. Animal Control’s own budget cuts have left fewer people to handle neglect cases and care for shelter animals. Consequently, we can only maintain a smaller shelter population.
What can you do? Spay or neuter your pets, and control breeding so that the number of dogs, cats, horses, etc. does not exceed the number of homes available. When acquiring an animal, consider carefully whether you can meet its needs now and in the future. It is all too easy to take on more than you can handle.
For those who can – donate time or money to the Humane Society, Friends of Animal Control, or one of the other animal welfare groups in our area. Seldom has it been needed more.
Clarke is the manager of Tuolumne County Animal Control, 10040 Victoria Way, Jamestown, (209) 694-2730.