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The four-legged victims of recession

January 19, 2009 |  7:01 am

This is the flip side of trickle-down economics -- trickle-down suffering.

Thalia the terrier lost her home as a result of economic woes.

The effects of the nightmare economy is felt first and maybe hardest by those who have the least resources to weather the fiscal storm. For example, as of Feb. 1, California will have to suspend sending out the kind of checks that require cash in the bank. Welfare checks are about the first to go.

But the trickle-down reaches far beyond there. At Los Angeles' North Central animal shelter on Saturday, I dropped off some newspapers and towels -- they can use all such donations, along with dishes and leashes and just about anything pet-related.

And I saw the other mute victims of this economy, cage after cage of them. Dogs who are ''owner surrenders,'' dogs who once had homes and families and who have now been left at the shelter because of the economy.

The man who had to leave Thalia the terrier -- she's now at the West L.A. shelter -- told me they had to move out of the family home and into an apartment that didn't allow pets. Thalia is 9 years old and had been with her family since she was a puppy.

Others' stories you could only guess at, because I didn't encounter their owners. A couple of sweet German shepherd mixes, maybe 10 or 12 years old, with a touch of white on their muzzles and eager for an affectionate word and touch -- their only home now is the shelter. A couple of elderly beagles, also ''owner surrenders,'' are in the same cage. Over and over, cage after cage, the same story.

[In the midst of them all was a very cheerful, big black and white puppy who looked like he had been put together wrong at the factory -- it looked like his left front leg had been switched with his right. The birth defect doesn't affect his mobility or his disposition, but it does make him a ''disposable'' dog as far as someone was concerned.]

Barack Obama has promised his daughters a dog, and he laudably wants a rescue if he can find the right one. He's thinking either a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water dog, because one daughter is allergic to just about anything else.

He's also called on us to make today, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a day of service, to help those who have less than we do. Let's make that a month of service, and if you can, help out your local animal shelter, where your old towels and blankets and newspapers can do service after you've finished with them.

Even better, you could give new hope to an old and loving life by adopting one of these affectionate critters who once had a home and who would be a loving and grateful addition to a new one. 

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Thalia, ID# A1005689 at the West L.A. shelter, is a spayed female terrier mix.  For more information on Thalia or other L.A. city shelter animals, call 888-4LAPET1.

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