As tough financial times make inroads in families’ budgets, some are finding that they may have to cut ties with the furrier members of their family.
“Some comments from folks coming in are, the way the economy is today, they’re looking to cut back,” said Jerry Kraus, public relations director for Stevens-Swan Humane Society of Oneida County. “And when it gets to the listing of things they need to cut back, unfortunately pet animals are on that list.”
Ed View Jr., a member of the Herkimer Humane Society’s board of directors, said it costs anywhere from $650 to $1,200 per year to own an animal.
For the last three months, Stevens-Swan has been at or near its maximum capacity, Kraus said. They’ve even had to ask some people to wait a few days until space opens up for their pets.
Space issues are not exclusive to Stevens-Swan; other shelters said they’re overcrowded, too.
‘They can’t care for the pets’
Helping Animals Live Organization, a Little Falls-based cat shelter, has been increasingly affected by the economic climate, an administrator said.
“It seems to be getting worse,” said Faye Bunk, H.A.L.O. president. “A lot of people can’t afford to feed them anymore.”
Others find that moving to less-costly lodging costs them their pets.
For instance, a New Hartford woman recently called H.A.L.O. looking for a place for her two cats because she was moving from a house to a more affordable apartment and her landlord does not allow pets, Bunk said.
Bunk hopes landlords will be more lenient by allowing pets in their buildings.
“If the landlords could be a little more flexible and pinpoint who is a responsible pet owner, some of these people could keep their pets,” she said.
Another Little Falls shelter, Community Animal Programs, has space for about 120 cats but now must turn people away daily, said Caryl Hopson, a C.A.P. volunteer.
A number of the people who call say they can’t afford their cat anymore, she said.
“The economy is not only affecting people, it’s affecting pets as well,” she said. “When people don’t have as much money to spend, they can’t care for the pets the way they used to.”
View said he expects the crowding issues to get even worse next year.
“People will have less money,” he said.
Like Stevens-Swan, the Herkimer County Humane Society has so many animals that they’re putting cages in administrative offices.
“That’s not a good thing,” View said.
They are also turning some people away when there is not enough space, View said.
“Somebody brought a dog in last week and they had no place to put them,” View said. “People look at you funny, but how do you handle that?”
author: Dan Miner