Dogs are Being Abandoned in Droves Because People Can't Afford to Feed Them

It's no secret that pets increase our quality of life. People who own pets have lower blood pressure, exercise more and experience less depression. One could pretty much say that owning a pet should be viewed as part of a healthy lifestyle. But another aspect of a healthy lifestyle is being able to feed your family, which may include a pet as well. The average person spends $13,000 a year on groceries for a family of four. The average family spends $2,700 a year to feed a dog.

When we talk about luxury items that the average family can afford, we can't just include extra streaming services or vacations, because pet ownership is now so expensive it should be viewed as a luxury item. And many families are being forced  to surrender their beloved pets because who can afford to feed them in this economy?

CBS News has a fascinating report on how the economy is affecting dog ownership and how shelters are becoming overcrowded due to so many people having to surrender their beloved pets.

Related: Animal Shelters Are Offering Special Perks to Prevent Shelter Overcrowding

The article explains, "Animal shelters generally reflect what is happening to people in a community and where there is food insecurity," Stephanie Filer, executive director of Shelter Animals Count, told CBS MoneyWatch.

As 2023 came to close, there were 250,000 more animals in the shelter system than the year before, said Filer, whose group compiles data from nearly 7,000 shelters nationwide.

It's so important for families to be able to adopt pets and also to keep the pets that all ready reside in their home, and deciding whether to feed your kids or your dog is no choice any family should be confronted with.

In addition to the cost of pet food and care, housing also affects adoption rates. "People are making desperate choices in part because of the challenge of finding affordable housing, a situation heightened with the lifting of a federal moratorium on evictions in August of 2022. Especially in competitive housing markets, many landlords have imposed stricter rules limiting or banning pets, particularly certain breeds and larger dogs.

"It's harder to find affordable housing that allows pets," said Keiley.

The Animal Crisis has No Easy Solution

Until the economy turns around, food insecurity for both pets and their owners will remain an issue. Food banks across the United States are trying to do their part by stocking pet food in addition to their human food so those families with pets can get supplies at a single location.

Many shelters in the United States are offering reduced adoption fees, veterinary care, and food donations to help with shelter overcrowding.

If you are considering volunteering at your local shelter, now is a great time. Monetary donations are always appreciated.

Another way you can help is to donate high quality bags of pet food to your local food pantry.

If you know of a family struggling, ask them if you can help by providing them pet food for a few months. The idea of someone  surrendering a beloved dog because they can't feed them is too heartbreaking to fathom.

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