July 8, 2009
The HSUS Urges Families to Stick Together in These Hard Times — for Their Sake and for Their Pets
Difficult economic times are putting pets at risk of abandonment — but The Humane Society of the United States cautions that forfeiting a pet can add up to a double-dose of bad news, both for pets and families.
Economic strain on families is precisely when we need our pets the most. Study after study has shown that in addition to providing unconditional love and affection, the pets in our lives decrease stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Sharing affection with a dog or cat has also proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And keeping families intact during crisis is a sure-fire way to prevent remorse down the road.
This is an especially important message at a time when shelters across the country are packed with once-loved pets who are the unseen victims of this recession.
"Local shelters cannot find new homes for all of these surrendered animals," said Betsy McFarland, senior director of companion animals for The HSUS. "Before surrendering an animal, pet owners should exhaust all possible means for cutting costs and all possible options for pet care assistance. Giving up a furry member of the family will only further increase stress and feelings of loss during these already hard times."
Although layoffs and home foreclosures have left many Americans in desperate straits, there are creative ways to afford our furry friends even on meager budgets. Plenty of devoted pet owners have successfully changed their spending habits to keep their pets from becoming another statistic. After all, pets are part of the family and keeping the family together is what's important.
Pet Cost Saving Tips:
- Shop around for necessary pet care products. With a little research you can find great deals online or in stores. Contact pet food and supply companies via their websites for coupons or promotional deals to help you save.
- Keep up with preventive veterinary care to keep your pet healthy and avoid costly problems. Let your veterinarian know that finances are tight and ask that he or she prescribe only the most vital vaccinations or treatments necessary. It is best to discuss payment plan options prior to your appointment.
- Contact your local animal shelter and ask about free or low-cost vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries and other services they provide for qualified pet owners.
- Keep your pets safe inside or on a leash while walking outside. Animals allowed to roam freely are more prone to accidents, which result in costly veterinary bills.
- If you can't afford pet food, check with your local food banks as many are providing pet food.
- Consider cutting back on your personal spending and use that money for pet care expenses. Bring your lunch to work instead of dining out or brew your coffee at home to take on the go.
More Benefits from Having Pets:
- Pets are credited with enhancing self-esteem and cognitive development in children, and children who own pets score significantly higher on empathy and pro-social orientation scales (Vidovic, 1999).
- Even seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed pet owners had 21 percent fewer physician's contacts than non-pet owners.
For more money-saving pet care programs and tips, visit humanesociety.org/petfinancialaid.
Read more on this topic in the July/August issue of The HSUS' All Animals magazine.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.