How the recession is affecting pet owners
Written by Elena Barnard | Wednesday, November 2, 2011
With worries of another global recession, pet owners are coming under an increasing amount of stress, showing repercussions that are affecting animal welfare shelters and the state of Britain’s pet ownership.
Both the Dog’s Trust and the Blue Cross charities have noted a rise in the numbers of owners giving up their pets for adoption at their rescue centres – the Dog’s Trust has seen a 56% rise over last year, and the Blue Cross stated their numbers of strays and abandoned pets were up by 50%. This is the barest hint of the problems across the country, as there are many more rescue centres, local charities and places for strays to be hidden.
Tracking these numbers is an inexact science, but just these figures from two charities shows an alarming increase over the course of just one year, and it isn’t just cats and dogs that are affected. Exotic pets that were once popular have become a burden, as their often expensive and demanding needs for heat and humidity requires a constant input of power – and with rising electricity costs, this has proved too much of a financial burden for those enthusiasts of the extraordinary and exotic pets. These animals are often smaller than the average dog or cat, and if left abandoned can be hard to find, and harder to save.
Rising vet bills are playing their part as well, as pet owners are less likely to have their dog or cat spayed/neutered which results in more puppies and kittens, causing an overpopulation problem in stray communities. This requires intervention from local welfare authorities, diverting funding from adoption and rescue practices, taking up space in their centres and costing more overall in terms of vet bills. This would be less of a problem if welfare organisations weren’t also seeing a decline in the number of donations; the recession has tightened people’s purse strings and effectively cut the funding that many animal charities require to run at functional levels. As those strays have been left to tend to themselves for a certain amount of time may have interacted with other animals in the wild, their health is often in poor state, usually meaning that their medical treatment will cost more as they will need vaccinations, flea treatment and a number of other checks before being fit to house with other strays.
It is due to these unfortunate facts that shocking figures emerge – around 20 dogs a day are put down by local authorities all across the country, a horrible figure that is increasing all the time. The recession has affected the entire market; people moving into rented property whose landlords don’t allow pets are forced to give them up, often into the care of rescue centres when other family members can also not afford to keep them. But it isn’t just the household animals that are suffering.
Horse rescue charity Redwings has reported a massive surge in straying and abandoned horses over the last couple of years, and a rise of 81 cases between 2009 and 2010 from 160 to 241 shows exactly how bad the situation has become. The large costs involved with horse ownership often means that it is impossible to sell them on, and the lowering price of horses on the market has effectively stopped any chance for the horses to get a new home. There has been a rise on the number of malnourished and mistreated horses that have been turned out and left, almost as though their owners are waiting for them to die; and those owners that have stopped paying to maintain areas where the horses are kept are endangering both the horses and by-passer’s lives, especially when the horses are kept near roads.
The recession has highlighted the importance of investigating your options when considering whether or not to adopt a pet, and the financial burdens that come with such a responsibility. Always seek advice on what it takes to own a pet in the current climate, and ask your local vet for any advice they can give you on first time ownership. Animal Friends always suggests adopting a stray or abandoned dog as a first time pet, as you will not only save money on an initial purchase but you can also be advised on the best way to care for them, avoiding a costly ‘trial and error’ method of working out the best way to make them at home.
Insuring your pet gives you peace of mind that you and your pet will be covered if anything were to happen. Animal Friends offer a range of policies for you to choose from.