Animals & Money: Recession hurts dogs, horses, birds, all species

When people suffer financially, their animals face hardship, too. At the beginning of the year the Humane Society warned about about shelters being overwhelmed. Dogs and cats were losing their families when those families lost their homes. Now we're hearing about all kind of animals suffering in the financial downturn. Basically any animal that depends on humans is a little bit less secure.

Dogs and Cats
Shelters around the country report a surge of animals surrendered. Some have surely been forced into the situation, but lots of animals seem to be cast out as if they were impractical luxury goods. In Los Angeles, an 11-year-old shepherd was left scared in the shelter; the Animal Shelter of Sterling, MA, tells the Worcester Telegram that they haven't seen this many surrendered animals in 15 years; dogs in Dallas are being dumped on the side of the road. And, as I wrote about earlier, some people cruelly abandoned their pets in the house as a way to inflict suffering on the bank -- never mind what it did to the animal.Wild Horses
The Bureau of Land Management wants to euthanize or sell off wild horses from the Western states, claiming that not enough people are stepping forward to adopt them. Blame the tough economy and rising feed costs. The government now keeps 30,000 horses in corrals and says it's getting too expensive. (Of course, others, like horse expert Deanne Stillman say that the BLM has mismanaged the whole population to the benefit of cattle ranchers.) The BLM also notes creepily that it has "thus far focused on sales only to those buyers whose intention is to provide long-term care." Does this mean they are going to start selling them at auction? Now that horsemeat is effectively banned here, buyers are just shipping horses to Canada and Mexico to be butchered.

Animals in Sanctuaries
Animals charities and sanctuaries are, like other non-profits, feeling the economic pinch. In a slow economy people give less, plus food and energy costs are higher. In England the Three Owls Bird Sanctuary says it might have to close, like five other animal charities recently did.

Sanctuaries that support themselves off visitors are also seeing a decline -- even though they make an excellent economical outing. One of the best places in the country to go bear viewing, the Vince Shute Bear Sanctuary says its numbers of visitors has dropped -- though it is seeing more locals. Plus, many wildlife rehabbers work from their own pockets...and those pockets are increasingly empty.

Wild Birds And Animals we feed
Can we support a $4 billion hobby of feeding wild birds and squirrels in a recession? Maybe not. Especially since grain and corn are getting so expensive. The National Wildlife Federation has some suggestions for cheaper feeding.
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