Animals & Money: Some sick pets lose medical care, homes in recession

Tammy Duckworth has special needs and is up for adoption
Tammy Duckworth has special needs and is up for adoption

Some animal owners may be turning their sick or disabled dogs and cats in to shelters because they feel they can't afford them during the recession.

The Pittsburgh Post found recently that their local shelters are seeing lots of cats with broken legs or asthma. The editor wrote in to Al's Morning Meeting to say that the shelters say they think they've seen a greater percentage of animals with special medical needs since the recession. Their statistics were scarce, but it certainly adds up.

A survey in Veterinary Economics last fall found that half of pet owners would cut vet costs in a recession and 75% would cut pet supplies. In other words, people sensibly were more likely to cut expenses that just supported a pet's extravagant lifestyle. What's a luxury item for a dog? This week Unemploymentality featured a funny picture of a dog on the street with a sign "Will Work for Snausages" after the owner announced he was cutting out the beloved dog treat. Last fall the Kennel Club had another, much happier survey showing 96% of us would give up Starbucks -- something we mainly consider just a lifestyle splurge.

But the vet survey also makes sense. After all, people are trying to game their own health by delaying or rushing surgeries according to whether they hope they'll get health insurance or fear they'll lose it. Potentially money-saving surgeries like vasectomies are up, while luxury-like procedures such as Lasiks are down, Daniel Hamermesh pointed out.