Slump in economy leaves pets without homes

Stephens County_Soaring gas prices, rising food costs, and increased foreclosures not only affect the way we live, but also the way our pets live.  Animal shelters across the country are packed tight, and shelter volunteers say the economy is to blame.

The Stephens County Humane Society's workers say they just don't know what to do.  It's a sad sight to see hundreds of abandoned dogs and cats eagerly awaiting new owners.  They say that this is the busiest time of the year for them - now, it's busier than ever.  On Tuesday alone, more than twenty animals were dropped off.  Only two of the animals were adopted.

Humane Society workers say they think that with kids out of school, parents are spending more money on gas, food, and entertainment, and they are cutting back on other expenses - like pet care.  "It's not cheap," says Volunteer Betty Burk.  "You have to keep them up health wise with their shots, you have to be able to feed them - and a puppy is going to grow up."  "With the economy right now, they think 'We really don't have the money for the pet, lets just get rid of it - we'll dump it,'" says Humane Society worker LaJeana Dejer.

Betty has been volunteering at the animal shelter for more than eight years and says she has never seen so many abandoned animals.  "We don't know how we are going to find homes for all of them, that's what's the most heartbreaking to me," she says.

Another shelter worker says the problem isn't puppies or kittens - which are quickly adopted - it's the older, or sick animals, that no one seems to want.  "Now, it's in our hands and what do we do?  We have to treat the cat and go from square one."  Meanwhile, she says the only way to control the animal population is to spray and neuter the animals.  "If they [pet owners] would learn to spay and neuter them, we wouldn't have all these puppies."

Shelter volunteers say that if you are considering getting a pet, keep in mind that it's a lifetime commitment and investment.  Every animal that comes into the shelter is examined by a vet, and if the animal has any diseases or health conditions, they are treated immediately.  If you would like to adopt a pet, contact the Stephens County Humane Society at 580-252-7387.  The Paws & Claws Benefit fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. - midnight at the Duncan Golf and Country Club, located at 1800 N. Country Club Road.  Call 580-252-7000 for ticket information.

In the Comanche County Humane Society's efforts to help low income people in Comanche County to spay or neuter their pets, the Humane Society is working with the ABC Clinic to spay and neuter 70 cats and dogs on June 13, Desperate House Cat Day.  ABC Clinic regular prices apply, but the Humane Society has funding to spay and neuter 30 cats for low income people living in Comanche County.  Applicants should call 355-SPAY (7729)