Shelters see more people giving up their pets as they struggle with inflation

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Inflation is hitting people in many different ways, from housing to groceries to gasoline. It’s also causing an uptick in the number of pets being surrendered at animal shelters.

Adopting a pet is a decision usually made with certainty. But uncertain times are causing some owners to surrender their pets or to need extra help taking care of them.

The Humane Society of Chittenden County is seeing an uptick in animal surrenders.

“Especially really emergent situations, folks losing housing, folks dealing with just the cost of other aspects of their life. And all of these issues that are just kind of all rolled together that are making it really tough for people,” said Cynthia Harris Cole of the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

The shelter says a combination of urgent calls, staffing shortages and paying for more supplies puts a strain on the organization.

In Washington County, the Central Vermont Humane Society is seeing a similar trend and says short-term solutions to help people keep their pets are becoming less helpful.

“We’re seeing long-term issues, serious financial issues, housing issues where people are being evicted and people living in their cars, even much more serious issues that we’re seeing that are impacting their pets,” said Laurie Garrison of the Central Vermont Humane Society.

They say they’re experiencing an increase in veterinary and operating costs.

For the first time in a while, they have a waiting list for animal intakes.

“We’re very careful about what we call capacity for care. So if we have animals, animals in the building, there’s a certain level of care we want to be able to do,” explained Garrison.

In Addison County, the Homeward Bound Humane Society says they aren’t seeing an uptick in surrenders but there is an increase in the number of people enrolling in their income-eligible support program.

“People who are needing help with food and care of spay and neuter costs. There is no question that there’s a lack of pet-friendly housing in Addison County,” said Jess Danyow of the Homeward Bound Humane Society.

The shelter says they see a lack of dog trainers and behavior care.

They plan to expand their spay and neuter clinic to access more people, hopefully allowing for more animals to stay in their homes.

“It’s certainly something that improves the relationship between people and their pets and people and their, their pets and neighbors in the community in general, landlords as well,” Danyow said.

The humane societies say they’re here to help. If you’re struggling with keeping your animal, they’re just a phone call away to try to help you come up with different resources and ways to workshop keeping your animal in a happy home as long as possible.

“We’re happy to troubleshoot with you. If that’s providing an extra bag of cat food here and there to get to the next paycheck, we can absolutely do that,” Harris Cole said.

All the animal shelters say adopting pets can help the animals and the shelters they come from.

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