Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pet Recession

Check your local shelter - they've probably filled every available space with pets whose owners can't afford to feed them anymore. One local shelter I know has a 'no kill' policy - and that's resulting in people being turned away as they try to surrender their beloved dog or cat (or bird, ferret or bunny) because there is just no room at the inn.

We've toyed with the idea of adding a dog to our menagerie of three argumentative cats. But the reality is we can't afford it right now. The cost of dog food is high; the vet bills can be astronomical. If you've already got the animals, how do you take care of them when you've lost your job, maybe are losing your home?

Here's a story out of Chicago with one answer. Dog trainer Cathy Sabin has opened up a food pantry for pets. There are others, and the need for what they're giving is growing. Sabin says she's seeing a lot of senior citizens lining up for free bags of pet food.

Some cranky so-called pragmatist out there may argue, "If they can't afford them, then why are they keeping those animals?"

The answer, you heartless automaton, is that for many people a pet is a best friend. Particularly for people who are isolated, people who are sick or sad, people who are older, a pet can be a comfort, a warm connection with another living creature. And don't tell me pets don't care about their owners. Anyone who has ever had a connection with a beloved animal knows that there is a bond there that can't be broken by time or distance. Some people like to pretend that animals are somehow less than humans, less sensistive, less aware. I maintain their awareness is different - I believe they may not relate to the world the same way we do, but different is not's just different. They know their people, they remember good and bad experiences, they have loyalty and they will risk their own safety to protect the ones they care for. Hmmm...maybe they're better than some of us.

Anyway, food pantries for pets. It's sad that it's coming to this, but what a fine example of the best in humanity that someone's doing it.,0,5222459.story

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