Local News

Economy forces pet owners to make tough choices

Posted January 15, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— As the economy has worsened, staff at the SPCA of Wake County have seen arrivals soar as struggling families were forced to surrender pets.

"We have seen more animals left at the doorstep or tied to the light pole with notes that say, 'I'm sorry. I cannot take care of this animal,'" said Hope Hancock, executive director of the shelter.

Pet food Wake SPCA helping pet owners

Ashlea Anderson, an SPCA of Wake County adoption counselor, said she talks just about every day to someone who can no longer afford to keep his or her pet.

"We always have owners surrender their pets, but there is a difference in this," Hancock said. She described the decision to surrender a pet as "heart-breaking. It hurts. It's painful."

More pets have been coming into the shelter – although officials can't say how many surrenders are because of the economy – and there have been fewer adoptions.

In response, the SPCA has launched two programs to help pet owners with the daily care their companions require – a monthly food pantry and spay and neuter clinics.

The goals are to have more animals spayed and neutered so they don't have a growing population of homeless pets and also to help people feed their pets so they can keep them.

The Pet Food Pantry opened in August to provide assistance to families struggling with the cost of dog or cat food.

Through December, the pantry helped more than 3,000 animals and shared more than 30,000 pounds of donated food, Darci VanderSlik, community outreach coordinator for the SPCA, said.

The pantry is open the third weekend of every month and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The next pantry is Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Wake SPCA at 200 Petfinder Lane in Raleigh.

Pet owners can receive up to a month's worth of free food, and the only requirement is proof that their animal has been spayed or neutered.

In January, the SPCA began offering discounted spay and neuter clinics. On the first day, clients were lined up out the door, Hancock said.

"It is very, very clear to me that there is a resounding need for this clinic," she said.

The clinics are open four days a week and cost up to $45 per animal.


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  • sunneyone Jan 23, 2009

    Actually, the SPCA DID do an event in December where they lowered the adoption fee and had a nice round of adoptions that weekend. The fees are to cover the fact that most of the time they have to spay/neuter the animal, provide shots for the animal, give the animal a microchip and to cover the cost of care in their facility. The fees are not that much when you consider the fact that EVERY animal that they offer for adoption is spayed/neutered, up to date on shots, reasonably healthy and has a microchip. Think about how much you'd pay to have that done for your pet at your Vet and then tell me that's not a good deal!

    As far as the proverbial hoops they make adopters go through, most of the animals they have came from abusive situations. They don't want animals going back into that kind of situation. The "hoops" are to make sure they don't have an animal going to a home that is just going to come right back out. They also try to match the pets with the right human.
    Our SPCA rocks.

  • davidgnews Jan 16, 2009

    We sold our cats to a research lab for some good money.

    I'm picking up a new litter at the flea market this weekend, since I can smell a new enterprise in tough times.

    (haha, no, NOT really ....... LOL).

  • DRA Jan 16, 2009

    thats just an excuse! so times get tuff and you drop off your pet with a note attached to it you made a commitment to take care of this animal when you got him or her and then just cast it away like a piece of trash they shouldnt have had a pet to start with dog and cat food is cheap cant afford quality food thats ok buy cheaper food that would be better than whats probally going to happen to them now. i dont know how some people sleep at night this makes me sick!!!!

  • wcnc Jan 16, 2009

    So people can't afford the $10 per month to buy Ol' Roy dogfood to feed their dogs?? Bet they still have cable and cell phones....

  • emailastro Jan 16, 2009

    I love my doggies and my doggies love me.

  • Scubagirl Jan 16, 2009

    in light of so many giving up their pets in these hard economic times it would seem like a no-brainer for them to waive or lessen the fees. Perhaps if enough people write to them they would consider it.
    I feel so sorry for these folks who have to give up their fur kids, I can't imagine how I would feel if it was me. Hopefully I'll find a job soon so it will never be a possibility.

  • christineswisher Jan 16, 2009

    And to adopt one of these pitiful animals, we pet owners have to go through some adoption application ordeal, home visits, adoption/rehoming fees, etc??? If they truly want to find homes for these animals, they would let go of these ridiculous requirements and get these dogs/cats moving out into the public where they can have homes. It doesn't take an Einstein to judge a person's motives for getting a dog/cat and we surely don't want to get a mutt dog/cat from the pound and have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to do so. And yes, there ARE bad people with bad intentions, but for every one "bad," there are probably 100 good and isn't that a better chance for the animal???