Pets becoming too expensive for some

January 2, 2009 6:59:48 PM PST
Hurricane Ike and the economic downturn are two things that have put a major pinch on people right here in Southeast Texas.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

But, for many folks it appears their pets are paying the price.

When times are bad, people look to cut costs where ever they can. No one knows that more than the volunteers at the SPCA.

If Jules the dog could talk in a language we could all understand, the story of how he got to the SPCA would be intertwined with the economy. As the adoption papers attest, the Jack Russell Terrier was a casualty of the economy.

"In 2008 just as a whole, well over 800 animals were brought into the shelter," said Meera Nandlal of the Houston SPCA. "They were surrendered by their owners for the reason of can't afford costs. Now that can be for any reason. As of mid-December there were about 50 brought here for this reason."

Nandlal says the Houston SPCA is seeing the same thing as shelters across the nation. That's an increase in dogs and cats being left behind by owners who say they simply can no longer afford the upkeep on the family pet.

"A lot of people we know are having their houses foreclosed on, and there have been stories of family pets left at that home," Nandlal said. "Don't do that, they can't fend for themselves."

The SPCA saw a spike in adoptions at the end of this year. It's a typical spike as pets become presents, but the folks here are worried some of those animals may come back if families are forced to cut costs.

"I wasn't able to afford him to be honest with you," said pet owner Carlos Torres.

Torres found this dog after Hurricane Ike and kept him for nearly three months, but ultimately the expense of an extra animal around the house became too great.

"I put up signs and no one claimed him and with my lease I can't have a dog," Torres said.

This is a no kill shelter, all the animals that can be adopted stay here until they go to a loving home. For that reason the SPCA is looking for donations to help pay for the cost of all those unwanted animals.

It's not just dogs and cats that are being left because of the economic downturn, officials at the Houston SPCA say here in Texas and across the nation, more and more horses are being abandoned as owners find it impossible to pay for feed and lodging.

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