During a recession, humans are not the only victims. Humane shelters all across the country are beginning to feel the strain as people are realizing that they cannot afford to keep their pets and have to reluctantly resort to signing them over to animal shelters, rescue organizations or to foster homes.
Similarly, veterinary clinics are finding that people who cannot pay for their animal's medical procedures will sign their animals over to the clinic or simply have them put down. Or worse, abandon their pet at the clinic once the medical procedure has been completed. These trends are likely to continue until the economic situation improves, but the average person might be wondering what they can do or what can be done at all.
What is the increase currently like?
Though there are no concrete numbers from the Humane Society of the United States, the organization has noted an anecdotal swell off animals being abandoned and greater reports of shelters in crisis across the board. Press reports indicate that many individual shelters are in a place where they are dealing with nightly drop offs. Some of the animals are signed in, but others are simply dumped on the shelter's doorstep or even left to roam the parking lot, endangering themselves as well as the people who need to drive and park in the parking lot.
At the present time, it seems like all of the resources that are needed to take care of abandoned animals have become very strained. Shelters that are usually equipped to handle perhaps 300 animals might actually end up needing to deal with twice, or even three times, that original number, whilst veterinary clinics find that the number of abandoned animals that they are looking for is steadily increasing as well. This has lead to putting pet caregivers in the heartbreaking situation of needing to euthanize healthy animals because of a simple lack of resources and availability homes. Even facilities that had been available for foster care, until the animals could find forever homes, are currently being stretched to capacity.
What can You do?
If you are in a position where you would like to aid in this situation, there are in fact several things that you can do. If you do decide to adopt an animal, make sure that you are able to take care of the animal for the rest of its life. Many shelters have issues with animals that are returned, and contributing to this problem puts a strain on the shelter's resources. Some people find a middle ground in fostering animals, where they can still be put up for adoption as you give them a place to live temporarily. Another way in which you can help out your local animal shelter, especially if you have extra hours per week to spare, is to volunteer to be an animal socializer, adoption counselor or a shelter worker. Even volunteering to help with cleaning of the animals cages can also be a good way to help out and would be most appreciated by both the animals at the shelter and by the other shelter workers too.
You will also find that donations, such as toys, food, blankets, dog beds, can go a long way. You can call your local humane shelter or animal rescue organization and find out what they are short on, and chances are very good that they can give you a list. There are many things that you can do to help animals in need during a recession, and if this is something that you want to commit to, make sure that you call your shelter soon! The sooner that you can start helping out in any way that you can, the sooner a dog or cat will feel better about being left behind by their owners.
Photo Credit: Dad of the Day