CAPITAL DISTRICT For many pet owners, a dog or cat is another member of the family. So what happens when you can’t keep him or her?
That’s the question many Capital District pet lovers are being forced to answer, and they’re turning in increasing numbers to local pet shelters for temporary or permanent assistance.
If a poor economy and less money to go around wasn’t enough, the recent impacts of tropical storms on the region have exacerbated problems.
At the Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society, the effects of the storm have been palpable. Though the shelter itself was not impacted, since the disaster a slew of animals have arrived at the Menands facility.
The storm exacerbated an existing problem with animal abandonment, as families hit by the recession were already trimming their budgets and expenses — including what’s spent on the family pet.
“Our owner surrendered animals are up about 50 percent from last year, and we’re holding about 140 more animals than we were at this time last year,” said Executive Director Brad Shear. “Adoptions have been slow, because I think a lot of people were affected by the storm and are trying to figure out what to do with the animals they have.”
Most of the people who have turned over animals to the shelter aren’t bad owners, Shear said, they’re just out of options. A Schenectady woman who lost access to her home in the flooding turned over eight dogs to the shelter, without any plans to recover them.
“She said she’s going to have dogs in the future, but she doesn’t have a home,” Shear said. “For us, that’s a lot of dogs to take in all at once.”
The Red Cross provides temporary shelter to disaster victims and pets aren’t allowed at these facilities, so some people have only leaned on the shelter temporarily. But when they’re moved to hotels, a relative’s home or move out of town completely, the victims oftentimes just can’t make accommodations for their pets.