Recession Affecting All Walks of Life

Hopkinton, Massachusetts — The recession has taken its toll on the population of the United States, including the pet population and animal shelters across the nation.

“With the economy the way it is, we have definitely seen a drop in adoptions and a high increase of surrenders,” said Karen Ethier, the manager at Baypath Humane Society in Hopkinton. “It’s the economy. It really is – people just can’t afford to care for their pets.”

Pet owners sometimes go the wrong route and try to get rid of their pets on Craigslist, which can be a problem, Ethier said.

“If you put any animal on Craigslist it can attract any person,” she said.

An owner of a pit bull, for example, could try to find his or her pet a new home by utilizing Craigslist, but unknowingly throw their dog to the wolves, so to speak, and entered in dog fighting rings.

“It happens a lot,” she said. “And while pet surrenders have been up since the recession hit, the number of adoptions at Baypath continues to dwindle.”

Ethier said that due to a staff shortage, the shelter is limited in the number of animals it can take in and is below capacity.

Jackie Walters, manager at the MetroWest Humane Society in Ashland, told The Milford Daily News she has been receiving about 10 calls per day from owners looking to surrender their cats.

“We are down a good 40 percent from what they should be,” said Barbara Farrington, president of the Milford Humane Society.

“We’re getting fewer phone calls,” she said. “We’re all just trying to figure out why it’s down.”

Walters said she has received a number of calls from middle-aged pet owners who have been laid off or are in a financial bind and are making tough decisions like moving back in with elderly parents to save cash.

The increase in surrenders and drop in adoptions has also been accompanied by a drop in donations for animal shelters, most of which are non-profit and staffed by volunteers.

“We have to raise money to run the building,” she said. “Like everybody, we are hurting.”

Submitted by J. Lauren Benton

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