- Rising inflation means people are having to give up pets they can’t afford, animal shelters say.
- Animal shelters face higher costs and fewer donations — as well as more mouths to feed.
- Faced with an impending recession, they may have to turn away animals that “depend on us for their survival”.
Many animal shelters across the United States are “full to capacity or beyond” according to Best Friends Animal Society.
Amid soaring inflation and growing economic anxiety, more and more pets are being abandoned and adoptions are “lagging behind”, he said.
The Casper Humane Society of Wyoming told Insider it felt compelled to close the list of animals waiting for a spot after it became “too overwhelming.”
The shelter, which accommodates both pets and strays, typically cares for around 100 animals at any one time, including around 60 cats and 40 dogs plus other “assorted small creatures” like rodents and reptiles.
Craig Cummings, director of the Casper Humane Society, said his team had noticed an increase in the number of abandoned animals. He said he had been forced to operate above capacity all year and there were more than 100 dogs and at least 200 cats waiting for a safe home.
“We receive daily calls from owners who can no longer afford to keep their animals and from people who are displaced from their homes,” he said.
Soaring prices and widespread housing insecurity put pet owners in a tough spot.
According to ASPCA estimates, it costs $1,391 a year to own a dog and $1,149 to own a cat — and soaring inflation has made pet care even more expensive.
Shelters, faced with their own rising costs, are struggling to pick up the pieces.
Cummings spoke to Insider in early November when it was 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius) outside and snowing at his base in Wyoming.
Cummings said: “The animals currently in our shelter are lucky. They have a safe, warm place to stay – and they have people who care about spending time with them even when the weather isn’t the best. .”
He worries about what will happen to pets when the shelters are full: “Owners feel helpless when all the shelters are full and there are no resources for them. hope they survive and find a new family.”
“Now that winter has arrived in Wyoming, the chances of pets surviving outdoors on their own are minimal.”
The struggles of the refuges are not just about space. Soaring prices are stretching their limited funds.
The Cat House on the Kings, a no-kill shelter in Parlier, Calif., is currently struggling with declining donations and declining adoptions.
Tammy Barker, the shelter’s deputy director, told Insider, “When the economy is struggling and people aren’t sure about their financial stability, they don’t donate to nonprofits like The Cat. House on the Kings.”
The shelter has rescued 1,260 cats and kittens so far this year, but is worried about the future. Barker said, “We don’t know how long we can continue if donations don’t resume.”
Faced with a likely recession in 2023, the outlook is bleak. “We will have to refuse animals that depend on us for survival,” Barker said.
Pet owners who are struggling financially could check to see if support is available nearby to help them keep their pets at home.
Julie Castle, chief executive of the Best Friends Animal Society, said some shelters have started providing “pet pantries” to distribute food.
“The pandemic has sparked a wave of these donation-based pantries, finding a silver lining in an otherwise tumultuous time,” she said. “Sometimes a bag of pet food is the difference between keeping a dog or cat in their home, or someone having to make the agonizing decision to abandon their pet to a shelter.”
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