Families are returning pets to shelters due to inflation, rising rents

Some pet owners are giving up their animals as families struggle to pay for housing and necessities amid today’s inflation.

In New York City, surrenders by owners of dogs and cats at the Animal Care Centers of NYC are up 25% compared to last year.

“The biggest reason? It’s housing,” Katy Hansen, the animal welfare organization’s director of marketing and communications, told Fox News Digital.

Many pet owners who are giving up their animals in the Big Apple are moving to places that ban pets or aren’t pet-friendly.

“They are moving because they have lost their job or cannot afford to live in their home anymore,” Hansen wrote to Fox News Digital.

“Couple that with the rising cost of everything — including pet food, supplies and other essentials — and many shelters are indeed seeing an increase,” she continued. “It’s so sad.”

National shelter data from Shelter Animals Count — a nonprofit that monitors the country’s “animal welfare landscape” — shows that from January 2022 to June 2022, the number of relinquished pets went from 31,606 to 38,066 at 1,050 animal shelters.

Outside of NYC, news reports from around the country state that pet owners are bringing animals to shelters at alarming rates in Akron, Ohio; Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; Stockton, California; Houston, TX; Johnson City, TN; Farmington, New Mexico; and Missoula, Montana.

The ASPCA estimates that the average annual cost of a dog is $1,391 and the average annual cost of a cat is $1,149.

Yet these estimates don’t include the costs of professional grooming, dental care or one-time charges for medical procedures (spay, neuter, microchip and vaccination), training (in-class or at-home) and pet accessories (carriers, crates , collars, litter boxes, scratching posts and brushes).

Total pet costs are up 7.1% year-to-date on the Consumer Price Index, according to Pet Age, a business-to-business pet news company.

Some pet owners are giving up their animals to shelters as families struggle to pay for housing and necessities amid today’s inflation.
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“The net was a June YTD CPI increase vs. 2021 for Total Petflation of 7.1 percent, which is 85.5% of the extraordinarily high 8.3% overall rate,” Pet Age’s report said.

“It was only 72.5% in March.”

An economic news release published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on July 13 said that gasoline, shelter and food are some of the “largest contributors” to the rising consumer price index for all urban consumers.

The gas index rose 11.2% while the shelter index rose 0.6% and food rose 1% in June 2022.

A new rent report from Rent.com — an apartment search engine and online marketplace — estimates that the national average rent price for a one-bedroom is $1,701 (up 25.3% year-over-year) and a two-bedroom is $2,048 (up 26.5% year-over-year).

While the website said rent prices “stabilized this month,” not everyone can keep up with the rising costs.

In Jacksonville, an anonymous pet owner abandoned a 10-month-old dog at the John Roberts dog park in early July — and left a note saying they were unable to keep the pet “due to raising my rent,” according to First Coast News .

The ASPCA told Fox News Digital that it researched pet relinquishment in May 2021.

It found that “the vast majority” of pandemic pets are still providing families with “joy and comfort, regardless of changes in circumstances, and that loving owners continue to appreciate the essential role pets play in their lives.”

A spokesperson for the organization added that shelter intake and adoption rates fluctuate based on seasonality and other factors that are converging simultaneously, including breeding seasons, medical and behavioral challenges and long-term staffing shortages.

“By making basic veterinary care accessible and affordable to those who need it most, we can keep pets healthy and safe in their homes and out of shelters, while simultaneously enriching the lives of their people,” the ASPCA wrote in an email.

“The ASPCA is one of the many organizations within the animal welfare field working to provide partially and fully subsidized veterinary care and resources, including pet food and grooming services, to pets and owners, including our targeted efforts in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami,” the statement continued.

A representative for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) confirmed that the organization is seeing more reports of animal relinquishments at shelters.

“Some of these reports carry an especially tragic edge,” PETA told Fox News Digital.

In May, the organization reported on a 6-year-old dog named Baby Girl who was abandoned by her unhoused owner in Wisconsin after seven animal shelters turned her away.

“We’re hearing these stories more and more as shelters face pressure to go ‘no kill’; instead of taking all comers, as open-admission shelters do, facilities with ‘no-kill’ policies manipulate their statistics by creating obstacles for people trying to turn in animals and accepting only those they deem most ‘adoptable,’” PETA wrote in an an E-mail.

It said it is “urging guardians to do everything in their power to keep their animals, and urging everyone to spay and neuter their animals to prevent more from being born into a world already bursting at the seams with homeless animals,” PETA continued.

If pet owners find that they’re unable to take care of their animal companions, PETA recommends they look into open-admission shelters that can “accept every animal in need, regardless of their adoptability for reasons of health, temperament or physical condition.”


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