Via MNN.com - Our unemployment rate may be dipping, but many U.S. families still struggle to make ends meet. “Doing more with less” requires tough decisions about household expenses, and many pet owners face the possibility of losing their pets.
Fortunately, there is a network of resources available to keep pets and their people together. Here are a few options compiled by Morieka Johnson at Mother Nature Network if you need help.
Pet Food - When Ann King created Save Our Pets food bank in 2008, she had a hard time convincing friends of the need for pet food banks. Four years later, we all know at least one friend or family member who has faced economic challenges, and King has seen her idea spread across the country.
“More and more, we still have people coming who are living in their cars with their pets,” King says. “They’ve been evicted; rather than giving pets up they’re staying in their cars with them.”
Check Save Our Pets to find a pet food bank in your area. Traditional food banks also are beginning to carry pet food. It also helps to call local breed rescue groups for recommendations.
Vaccinations - Routine vaccinations prevent pets from contracting deadly - and very expensive - diseases. Shop around for low-cost vaccination clinics. The Luv My Pets program offers low-cost vaccinations in 20 states. Many county animal control offices also offer deep discounts to residents. Check your local paper for event listings that include low-cost shot clinics. Be honest with your vet about the need to cut costs. Based on your pet’s age and lifestyle, you may be able to avoid some vaccinations or try the three-year rabies vaccine.
Spay/Neuter - Kittens and puppies cost money. Forget trying to sell them for a profit. North Shore Animal League notes that more than 70,000 kittens and puppies are born each day - so the market is flooded. Unaltered pets also face behavioral and health issues. Males are prone to roam in search of a mate, while females run the risk of developing breast cancer or uterine infections.
Check with your local animal control about low-cost spay/neuter services. In a partnership with PetSmart Charities, the ASPCA lists facilities on its website. North Shore also supports a spay/neuter program with 1,000 locations nationwide. Register online at SpayUSA.org for a referral or call 1-800-248-7729.
Established in 2011 by the Humane Society of the United States, Pets For Life offers food, obedience training, vaccination clinics and vouchers for spay/neuter services - with the goal of keeping people and pets together. The program targets underserved communities within Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.
“We are helping people in a time of need,” says Ralph Hawthorne, manager of the Pets For Life program in Atlanta. “It’s easy to say, 'If they can’t afford the dog then they shouldn’t have the dog.' But the pet is part of the family.”
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Written by Morieka Johnson