Special Report: Abandoned Animals - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Abandoned Animals

By Ben Roberts - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  They don't have jobs. They don't make or spend any money, but they may be the members of your family at greatest risk during the recession.

Your pets depend on you for survival, but some people can no longer afford to care for their animals, and there are fewer resources to help them.

That means far too many animals end up abandoned.

It's easy to see that Jay Robertson is a dog lover. "They're great listeners. They love you no matter what," she said.

She's got three of them- Megan the schnauzer, Bosley the shepherd mix sheltie dog. "He came over and sat down on my foot and gave me those big brown eyes, so he came home with me.

And  Dexter, who wasn't really supposed to be a permanent part of the family.

Jay agreed to be a foster mom to keep Dexter from being euthanized at an overcrowded Albany Humane Society, but she just couldn't let him go. "Dexter has been a true joy."

Caring for three dogs isn't cheap. "I do what I have to for them."

Jay finds a way to pay for all their medicine and make regular visits to the vet, but she knows in this tough economy, paying for pets is something some people just can't afford to do.

 That means too many animals end up at the animal shelter. "Very seldom are there empty cages in the Humane Society, and the real tragedy is animals keep coming in and unfortunately so many every day are euthanized," said Humane Society Director Donna Strickland.

In the last four months, the Albany Humane Society took in more than 1,900 animals. Only 7% were adopted, and fewer than 4% were claimed by their owners. Many people simply don't have the money to take care of their pets any more.

"We see quite a few that are abandoned, left behind. People move out and leave them behind," said Donna Strickland.

And in these tough times, fewer people are taking on the financial responsibility that comes with a pet.

People just aren't adopting. To try to reduce the number of animals that end up here, the Humane Society's Sunshine Fund will pay to have your pets spayed or neutered if you can't afford it.

"We're spaying and neutering for the community non-stop," said Strickland.

A pet food company used to donate food to the Humane Society which allowed them to give food to families having trouble caring for their pets. The shelter now buys its food, so there's not much to give away. But they'll try to help any way they can.

"If you're really in a bad situation, give us a call before you do anything drastic. Certainly, don't abandon them. Don't put them out on their own," said Donna.

That's something Jay Robertson wouldn't think of doing with her dogs. "Wouldn't get rid of them for nothing. If you're having a bad day, they make it a good day."

Because they bring her too much joy, and she and other animal lovers like her hope better economic days are coming so more animals end up like her dogs- healthy and happy at home.

Despite the recession spending on pet supplies and services is up nationwide.

A recent survey did show that 15% of pet owners are reducing spending on their pets and more than 25% of those people say they have seriously considered getting rid of their pets.


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