Economy Forcing People to Make the Toughest Cut: Family Pets

Postby Marinepits » July 3rd, 2008, 7:12 pm

http://www.bangornews.com/news/t/city.a ... zoneid=176

Economy forcing people to make the toughest cut: family pets
By Sharon Kiley Mack
Thursday, July 03, 2008 - Bangor Daily News


BANGOR, Maine - As household expenses - food, fuel, heating costs - rise at an unprecedented rate, more and more pet owners are finding themselves making the difficult choice to give up their pets.


"It is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch grown men cry," Dawn Weber, an adoption counselor at the Bangor Humane Society, said this week. "We have people who say they have given up their cell phone, shut off the cable, and they still can’t make ends meet. So, now it’s the dog or cat that has to go."

This week there are 112 cats at the Bangor society and Executive Director Suzan Bell said half of those were brought in for economic reasons. Shelters across the state say that over the past year, financial pressure has surpassed allergies and lack of time to care for a pet as the most common reasons for surrendering them.

"It appears to be the reason of choice lately, and not a choice these people want to make," Bell said, adding that many of the surrendered pets have not had veterinary care, either. "That would be an additional expense," she said.

Bell said that excluding unexpected medical expenses, it costs between $400 and $600 a year to maintain a pet.

"When you can’t feed yourself, you can’t feed your dog," said Pat Nelson, manager of the Somerset Humane Society and Animal Shelter. "When you can’t pay the bills, the animals have to go."

Shelters and humane societies across the state are feeling the strain twofold: Animals are coming in and donations are not.

At Skowhegan earlier this week, two 13-year-old cocker spaniels were turned in. Yesterday it was a three-year-old Pomeranian. "She is sweet but scared to death," Nelson said. "It breaks your heart.

"A lot of people are embarrassed and turn their pets in as strays," she said. "But we can tell. The animals are cared for, they have names, and those people cry when they leave."

At Bangor, Weber watched as one woman gave up two of her four cats because of the cost of keeping them. "She was in tears. How do you choose which ones to give up?" she said.

It is not just cats, dogs and kittens that are being given up. Pet owners are also turning in everything from rabbits to rats.

Norma Worley, director of the Animal Welfare Division of the Maine Department of Agriculture, said this is the worst she has seen for financially based surrenders in 26 years.

"What is scaring us are the pet owners that don’t turn their animals in to a shelter and abandon them," she said. "In some other states, financially strapped owners are turning their horses loose in state parks. In Maine, the horses are on grass all summer, but what is going to happen this winter? Next spring, when the horses are turned out of the barns, how thin will they be?"

Tracy Sala, the executive director of the Humane Society of Knox County at Rockland, said her shelter currently holds 150 adult cats, more than 40 kittens and 12 dogs. She said that a full 50 percent of those animals have been turned in because of financial pressures.

"We are also seeing donations down across the board," Sala said, "including even goods such as cat and dog food and kitty litter. People are struggling."

Many local food banks are doing what they can, turning pet food over to those who are struggling, and the Bangor Humane Society also has free bags of dog food available while they last.
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Postby iluvk9 » July 3rd, 2008, 7:16 pm

Such a sad situation. :( I couldn't imagine having to give any of mine up. Including the dumb cat.

I think I would sell my car and get a cheaper one, have a garage sale and sell anything non-essential, and downsize as much as possible. I would also get a second job, part-time. Sure, I don't have little kids to worry about, so some people can't do this, I guess.
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Postby madremissy » July 3rd, 2008, 8:35 pm

There was similar article in the Atlanta Paper the other day. I can't find it now, but it was very similar. It is just sad. :(
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 3rd, 2008, 9:22 pm

God forbid it ever came to that (which it wouldn't, as like Joyce, I'd live out of my car first), but god forbid it ever did, I would have Inara euthanized.

Ugh, gives me chills to even think about it.
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Postby KJS » July 4th, 2008, 3:31 am

I hope these people have considered giving up smoking,drinking and gambling...before they give up thier pets....Its a shame they can not be re directed to specialist money management cousellors first...or even ask me where they can cut back on expenses...I would help
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Postby amazincc » July 4th, 2008, 7:57 am

KJS wrote:I hope these people have considered giving up smoking,drinking and gambling...before they give up thier pets....Its a shame they can not be re directed to specialist money management cousellors first...


You can't get blood from a stone. :sad2:
I don't think the majority of people who surrender their animals take their decisions lightly at all. There is only so much you can cut back on, and do, to stretch a paycheck. I would live in a tent under a bridge to keep my animals, but w/kids that's not possible.
A gallon of milk costs now as much as a gallon of gas. Even a specialist money management cousellor can't get around that fact.
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Postby KJS » July 4th, 2008, 9:39 am

I have always managed my finances well...even with having had 6 kids and 6 dogs...I just think that its not blood out of a stone to quit smoking...dont buy 3 lots of 6 packs of beer .....and dont bet on the horses twice a week...those things should go first...but I wonder how many do that?...I would not live in a tent under a bridge because in dont like camping and trolls live under bridges...but do you need that gallon of milk?...buy powdered and make yourself 5 gallons at home...buy only at discount stores...they sell dog food too sometimes...it might not be great but it does the job...go to the blue cross people and tell them your situation they can get you cheap or free vaccination shots and flea stuff...

set up your own page and sell your worn undies on the net...its not nice and yes there are sickos out there...but if they want to pay you up to $40 a pair of worn undies and not doing anyone any harm...then LET THEM!...it takes all sorts to make the world go around
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Postby amazincc » July 4th, 2008, 9:47 am

lol

Obviously you don't know how Blue Cross works over here. :wink:

I agree... do everything possible to keep your pets. I really believe the majority of people do the very best they can and already have quit any vices they may have in order to care for their furry friends.
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Postby airwalk » July 4th, 2008, 10:06 am

K you are right, there are folks that the animals are disposable and so they don't give up the other vices first...but those folks are there good economy or bad.

However, we are seeing an increase though in folks that have lost jobs, lost homes, have nothing left and are barely feeding themselves and can't afford to feed their pets. Those situations are truly heartbreaking, and unfortunately it is often the senior pets that get hit first because they are more likely to need specialty foods and/or increase vet care.
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Postby Malli » July 4th, 2008, 3:56 pm

From my perspective(in canada, the economy is a little better, I think), there are a lot of people who could make changes they don't even know are possible.
I've seen a girl absolutely sobbing about her dog and saying she wasn't sure if she could "do it" (keep the dog in hospital), we sent the dog home early, we compramised his treatment to try and save her money and keep her bill low, and then she showed up the next day in a car that was not more then a few years old and dressed in head to toe Lulu lemon :x I think, she honestly didn't even see those things as sacrifices that could be made, but they are, and she could have. And I think we have lots more clients like this, they don't think they can make the sacrifices because they don't see them; its pretty rediculous.
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Postby DropkickPA » July 7th, 2008, 1:07 pm

I'm hanging on, like most of the people I know. I don't own a car, I don't go out, and I just spent $80 on the first new clothes I've bought myself in 2 years because some of my older clothes just gave out and are unwearable and I WON'T be able to afford to buy clothes in the winter when the heating bill starts going up and up. That money got me 4 shirts, 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts, and a skirt for Dropkid for school in the fall. If I go into a downward spiral, there are things that I can and will cut out, BUT, if I should lose my job or get hit with a BAD medical issue, I'm totally screwed. I'm EXTREMELY lucky in that I have a place for me and Dropkid to go if that should happen, and a place for Agatha (she'd either go with us to my *gulp* parents house :chopper: or to my brother and SIL).

I feel for people who are forced to this decision, and it is always easier for us in this country (and others, apparently) to believe they are lazy, stupid, or callous and uncaring than it is to admit that stuff really is this bad for many people. We can convince ourselves that inaction with regard to the bigger picture is justified because "they're poor because they are lazy or stupid or wasteful". It's a sympton of the hatred for the poor that has grown so much in recent years. Blame them, it's all their fault! I am better off financially now than I was in the past, but I have been that close to utter poverty, and it certainly wasn't due to laziness or stupidity. It's a sickening feeling to have to try to figure out HOW to pay for the bare necessities when the money just. isn't. there. I can only imagine how horribly gut wrenching it would be to have to give up a pet.
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Postby amazincc » July 7th, 2008, 1:09 pm

I agree w/you 150%. :goodStuff:
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Postby Malli » July 7th, 2008, 5:27 pm

I have no "hatred" for poor people, I AM poor. My lifestyle has only just begun to come above the poverty line. When I got Oscar I had to save up for his yearly vaccines and exam.
I spoke from what I've seen/saw. Sometimes, I see people who obviously, truly, have no other options. Sometimes I don't, I see people who aren't willing to cut out uncessary things from their lives for their pets, people who don't really "try" for all their options.
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Postby DropkickPA » July 7th, 2008, 5:51 pm

Malli wrote:I have no "hatred" for poor people, I AM poor. My lifestyle has only just begun to come above the poverty line. When I got Oscar I had to save up for his yearly vaccines and exam.
I spoke from what I've seen/saw. Sometimes, I see people who obviously, truly, have no other options. Sometimes I don't, I see people who aren't willing to cut out uncessary things from their lives for their pets, people who don't really "try" for all their options.


But you see people who are at least able to afford to TAKE the dog to the vet. Many of the people the articles are referring to can't even afford to take their kids to the doctor when they get sick, let alone their pets. And, no offense, you ARE in Canada, the situation IS different there (economy is doing better, universal healthcare, which Belgium also has), so the type of thing you described is not applicable to what the article is referring to. And asshats who put new cars and designers clothes above their pets have ALWAYS been there, that's not a sign of any economic hardship, just proof that the asshattedness continues.
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Postby Marinepits » July 7th, 2008, 6:16 pm

DropkickPA wrote:And asshats who put new cars and designers clothes above their pets have ALWAYS been there, that's not a sign of any economic hardship, just proof that the asshattedness continues.


True, but it's also like what Malli said. There are a lot of well-off people in Fairfield County, CT, where I live and work. I am not one of them. I cannot tell you how many times I saw people show up at the vet's offices, crying poverty and that they couldn't afford to get their dog's surgery done, yet they drove up in a new Mercedes and toting thousand-dollar pocketbooks. WTF is that about? Give up the lattes and the expensive dinners out and help your dog! Yes, they are asshats, but I have NO sympathy for someone like that who says they can't "afford" anything. They don't know what a sacrifice truly is. Sacrifice that new sailboat and get your dog fixed, asshat. >(

And I'm not talking about people who have to choose between feeding their kids and feeding their pets, as the article mentions.
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Postby DropkickPA » July 7th, 2008, 7:10 pm

Marinepits wrote:
DropkickPA wrote:And asshats who put new cars and designers clothes above their pets have ALWAYS been there, that's not a sign of any economic hardship, just proof that the asshattedness continues.


True, but it's also like what Malli said. There are a lot of well-off people in Fairfield County, CT, where I live and work. I am not one of them. I cannot tell you how many times I saw people show up at the vet's offices, crying poverty and that they couldn't afford to get their dog's surgery done, yet they drove up in a new Mercedes and toting thousand-dollar pocketbooks. WTF is that about? Give up the lattes and the expensive dinners out and help your dog! Yes, they are asshats, but I have NO sympathy for someone like that who says they can't "afford" anything. They don't know what a sacrifice truly is. Sacrifice that new sailboat and get your dog fixed, asshat. >(

And I'm not talking about people who have to choose between feeding their kids and feeding their pets, as the article mentions.


The asshats are one reason I left clinical work. I just got to the point where I wanted start slamming heads into counters. But, the people the article is talking about are NOT the same, and equating one to the other isn't fair or honest. The circumstances are totally different.
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Postby amazincc » July 7th, 2008, 7:50 pm

I agree again.

All I can say is:" There, but for the Grace Of God, go I..." :neutral:
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 7th, 2008, 9:44 pm

I don't have insurance, so I don't go to the Dr...not until I can afford it. My dogs are all vetted though...Score, Inara and the cat had to get their rabies shots at the cheap-o rabies clinic...but hey, they're vetted. Score and Xander luckily give blood, so they get free exams and blood work on a regular basis...and Sawyer is going in to try his hand at it next month.

If it comes to losing my house, at least I could move back with my parents...I do have an "out". (I'm sure they'd love to hear that...they finally just got my 27 yo brother out) :giggle:

It's rough out there. :sad2:
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Postby Marinepits » July 7th, 2008, 10:05 pm

DropkickPA wrote: But, the people the article is talking about are NOT the same, and equating one to the other isn't fair or honest. The circumstances are totally different.


Neither Malli nor I are trying to downplay the problems that others are going through. We were simply talking about our experiences and certainly not equating the two different types of people.

I posted that article because I lived in a very economically depressed area of Northern Maine during the late 70s and early 80s and reading that brought back a lot of memories. Thank all the gods we never had to give up our pets, but we did have to literally hunt for food several times. I still don't care for venison or moose meat.

I know what it's like to be in that position and it sucks. You do what you have to do to survive.
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Postby Malli » July 8th, 2008, 6:43 am

I don't disagree with you that there are people who can't afford their pet's medical care. That was never a question in my mind. This was from my opening post into this discussion
From my perspective(in canada, the economy is a little better, I think), there are a lot of people who could make changes they don't even know are possible.


The economy may be different, but that doesn't make Canada a utopia. Even if there are more poor people in the states, there are still people in the same position in Canada.

I still stand firm in that there are way too many people who are not willing to see they could really afford to care for their pet. The people who are truly not able and truly have nothing are quite obvious to me (and my coworkers), and, we always sympathize.

We DO see people who can't afford to take their pets to the vet. Because almost all of the animals that come to my work require immediate medical care it is the nature of the work. As I said, I used to be one of them, I had to save up for $130 vet visit once a year; the only reason I'm not now is that I, A) have a credit card, and B) work at a veterinary hospital, currently, I'd at most be able to afford a few hundred dollars, if it was close to 2 of 4 weeks of the month.
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