A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Aug 2, 2011

Old and Sick Pets-Collateral Damage of Our Economy

Child With Aging Dog-Google Images
Old and sick pets have become too expensive to keep during these challenging economic times. Euthanasia instead of expensive cancer treatment, abandonment instead  of  possible euthanasia seems to have become the new trend.

The New York Times, examining the issue in northern California, recently reported that "pet surrenders were already high as the recession led people to downsize or to lose their homes. Now, having an animal that needs expensive medical attention is becoming yet another breaking point for strapped pet owners." The Times further established a correlation between cities with high unemployment rates and the high number of abandoned sick animals.

The term "economic euthanasia" refers to the choice often made by pet owners when presented with the costs of putting a pet to sleep versus those needed to treat a pet that had an accident, such as getting hit by a car, developed a chronic disease like diabetes, or just suffered the expected medical conditions of a geriatric animal. The differences in cost between the two options can be in the thousands of dollars.

Now, people are bypassing the veterinarian altogether and turning their ailing pets into shelters which is even less costly than going to a doctor in the first place.  Essentially, this can be characterized as "economic abandonment". Moreover, there are those, who, afraid their pet will be euthanized in already overcrowded shelters, or who can't pay the nominal shelter placement fee, are abandoning them in streets, foreclosed homes, at beaches and in parks hoping  they will be found by someone willing to give them a good home.

Finally, it is traumatic for the family, especially the children, if parents turn in a pet, as the children will naturally grieve and suffer such a loss. The more subtle message inadvertently sent to younger children who already deal with levels of separation anxiety, is, that should the situation grow worse, they may be next to go. These feelings can affect, trust and confidence in their feelings towards their parents and further destabilize their emotional state.

The stress level of the unemployed struggling to support a family-intense.

The pressure of having to choose between two necessities of life-unimaginable.

The cost of economic euthanasia and abandonment - priceless.

Article first published as Old and Sick Pets - Collateral Damage of Our Economy on Technorati.

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