When people lose their homes due to foreclosure they often have no where to take their pets. In Boston many of those pets are now at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
The shelter in Boston is not alone. Around the United States pets are being abandoned or surrendered by owners who can’t afford to take care of them. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been tracking the increase of pets being given up due to the recession. This year there was a 45 percent increase due to economic or housing issues.
“This is something that tears people up when they have to surrender the animal,” said MSPCA spokesman Brian Adams. “These have been part of the family for years.”
When a family brings their pet to the Boston shelter they pay $25 and up depending on how many pets are brought in. The MSPCA asks pet owners for a voluntary donation.
Not all pet owners take their animals to shelters. Some leave their dogs and cats behind when they are forced from their homes. There are reports that animals are left with a supply of food or turned loose.
It’s not just dogs and cats though filling up the shelters. In 2007 the MSPCA took in 21 horses that owners could no longer afford. $1,800 is the bare minimum it costs to take care of a horse, not including vet and ferrier fees.
The Merrimack River Feline Rescue is another shelter that is being overwhelmed because of the recession. It is housing more than 60 cats, up from 40 last year at this time according to president Annamarie Taylor.
“As soon as we place a cat, there’s another 10 waiting,” Taylor said. “We don’t know where to put them. We’re all overwhelmed. They’re even leaving them outside the shelter door. People are so emotionally upset because they’re losing their homes. The last straw is they’re also losing the cat they’re very attached to.”
There are more adoptions taking place at the shelters but that increase does not keep up with the sheer number of surrenders.