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Story of the year? Pets and the economy. Resolution? Adopt from a shelter

December 31, 2008 |  4:15 pm

A_dog_looks_out_of_a_shelterin_st_pToo many animals and not enough people -- that may very well be the story of 2008. Each week, our "Google alerts" on "pets" and "animals" include news reports on overcrowded shelters (victims of the current economic crisis) or animals abandoned in homes that are about to go into foreclosure or food banks for pets.

A recent report on MSNBC included the following:

Shelters nationwide are being hit by the economic meltdown. Cash-strapped pet owners have inundated the SPCA with pets that they can no longer afford.

It's not just the usual cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs -- a horse and 50 chickens have also landed at a South Jersey SPCA.

The problems seem to be everywhere. In Springfield, Mo., the News Leader recently reported:

Economic troubles across the country have led more families to say goodbye to their beloved pets and leave them in the care of overburdened shelters and humane societies.

At the Southwest Missouri Humane Society, the percentage of animals coming into the facility because their owners can no longer afford them is staggering.

Between 90 and 95 percent of pets dropped off by owners are given up because of financial reasons, said Bonnie Miller, executive director of the Humane Society.

The Arizona Republic echoes the same theme:

The Arizona Humane Society and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said they have seen a significant rise in the number of incoming animals compared with past years.

"We're blown away by how many animals we still have coming in these winter months," said Ashliegh Goebel, spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society. ...

"The Number 1 reason why people are surrendering their pets right now is they are moving or they don't have a home," Goebel said. "Unfortunately, we're forced to make a choice if they're not adoptable."

Closer to home, a Thousand Oaks paper reports:

In 2007, 94 owners surrendered their cats and dogs to the Agoura Animal Shelter during September, October and November. This year the number ran up to 271.

Evelina Villa, a shelter outreach staff assistant, said the rise in unwanted pets appears to be linked to the economic challenges people are facing.

So perhaps our No. 1 resolution at L.A. Unleashed for 2009 is to adopt from a shelter and to urge all our friends to do the same. Keep checking this space for possibilities.

-- Alice Short

Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images

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