People with furry friends are feeling the pinch.
Pet owners are struggling amid difficult economic conditions, a shelter leader told CNN.
Joe Labriola, executive director of PAWS Atlanta, said he’s noticed various signs of financial struggle in the past year, including seeing a massive increase of pets being abandoned at the shelter’s entrance. (He counts 166 — and said the shelter never kept track of the number before because it wasn’t large enough.)
“A number of animals are being abandoned that have serious medical issues,” Labriola told the outlet. “The only thing we can guess is that people just can’t afford those expenses,” he added.
PAWS Atlanta, a shelter based in the city that does not euthanize animals, has been swamped with rehoming requests via the phone and pets waiting to be rehomed. He also said that the pantry of free pet food the shelter runs has run out quickly.
Owning a medium-sized dog, for example, can cost about $900 a year, according to The Anti-Cruelty Society, a nonprofit network of shelters based in Chicago. But in 2022, as people were battered by rent increases, inflation, and stagnant wages, pet ownership became even more difficult.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by a quarter of a percent, continuing to try to cool down inflation even as the banking industry has been thrown into crisis.
CNN noted that while inflation has trended downward overall since June 2022, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates inflation for pet products has actually increased over the past eight months.
Other shelters have reported seeing something similar. Lisa LaFontaine, CEO of Humane Rescue Alliance, which is an animal advocacy group in Washington, D.C., as well as operator of things like shelters, told PBS the group has started doing food giveaways and reducing fees for adoption as people are struggling to afford to take on a pet.
“Last year, we gave out nearly 400,000 pet meals so that people didn’t have to worry about food if they were struggling,” she told the outlet.
Shelter Animals Count, a pet research database, found that more animals have been going into shelters than have been coming out of them (i.e., getting adopted) in the last four years, the outlet added.