I have worked with various rescues in the past, and I can tell you with this economy that many of the smaller rescues (especially the breed rescues) are struggling. Their donations are going down as more people lose jobs and cannot afford to donate. And they are being beset by surrendered animals for the same reason. A person unable to work soon finds they cannot feed their pets and need to find a home.
Its sad, but pets are also the quiet victims of the economic trauma underway. Its even more sad that there are also many irresponsible people out there who don't bother to attempt to take a pet to rescue, and either turn it loose, or even worse, leave it tied somewhere or locked in a basement. Reports of animal abuse and neglect are rising.
This is an article that ran a few months ago:
Family Pets Falling Victim To Hard Economic Times -- Courant.com
The woman sobbing by the stables at the Second Chance Ranch Equine Rescue was a familiar scene to Shannon Kalahan and the other volunteers at the farm.
Kalahan, 27, looked on as the woman, recently laid off and in her 40s, bid a final farewell to her two horses, Storm Cloud, a 6-year-old Appaloosa with a white face dotted with black spots, and Breeze, a lightning-white 24-year-old mare.
In a scene being repeated from Connecticut to the storied Bluegrass Country of Kentucky, hard economic times led the woman to give up her horses.
Horses aren't the only victims. Dogs, cats and other pets are also being reluctantly surrendered to animal shelters and dumped on the streets. Dubbed "foreclosure pets," their abandon is a grim consequence of the escalating costs of everything from feed to veterinary care. And with more than 700,000 properties in the country in some state of foreclosure, many homeowners are downsizing to smaller houses or apartments where pets may not be allowed.
The Humane Society of Connecticut estimates a roughly 5 percent increase this year in the number of small animals relinquished because of economic hardships. But the number may be significantly higher, animal experts say, because owners are not pressed on why they are giving up animals and often are too embarrassed to admit their dire financial situations.
Alicia Wright, the society's public relations director, recited the litany of reasons she has heard from people:
"We're moving. I can't keep my pet."
"I'm being foreclosed on. I can't keep my pet."
"I'm financially strained and cannot afford veterinary care and other expenses."
She added, "We're getting a lot more of that this year than we did last year."
In Connecticut, which has the highest horse per capita rate in the country, monthly costs for boarding a horse are between $300 and $500, not including medical bills. It costs at least $500 to $1,000 a year to take care of a dog or cat, at the bare minimum, Wright said.
The Second Chance farm, a 33-acre ranch in East Granby with other properties in Suffield and Belchertown, Mass., houses 15 horses, and volunteers hope to raise enough donations to expand to accommodate the growing need. Four full-time volunteers each spend up to 40 hours a week caring for the horses in East Granby after their day jobs and on weekends.
"We have a long waiting list right now," said Kalahan, a radiologist from Manchester. "We know people want to get rid of their animals."
The Connecticut Horse Council is planning to meet with as many horse rescues in the state as possible — there are around a dozen — to address how to make room for the flood of animals. Nearly every rescue center is full, and most have waiting lists.
"I have been getting a steady stream of e-mails from people looking to place their horses," said Amy Stegall, the council's president. "There's not much I really can tell them. We don't have an answer."
"It seems to me like it's going to be a long-term problem."
The problem is hitting other states as well. The Gentry Creek rescue center in northeastern Tennessee is at capacity, caring for 22 surrendered horses, and each week must turn away several requests from owners who say they don't have enough money to continue caring for their animals.
And the Equine Humane Center in Lexington, Ky., has taken in more than 200 abandoned horses since opening last April. Owners say last year's drought, which drove up hay and grain costs, and the economy forced them to give up their horses.
"What I'm hearing more is they can no longer afford to keep them," said Lori Neagle, the Kentucky center's executive director.
The Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, D.C., is also building an emergency-placement network that could take care of horses if local rescues can't make room for them, said Keith Dane, the group's director of equine protection. It is slated to be ready in six months.
National and local activists urge pet owners to cut back on other costs so they can keep their animals instead of turning them over to overburdened shelters. But some have no choice.
Hot Water Rescue, a dog rescue center based out of Collinsville but run almost entirely online, has been flooded with requests for pets being given up.
The center profiles dogs seeking new homes on its website. Buzz, a 4-month-old pit bull terrier, is so skinny because his former family could not afford to feed him and his brother, his profile says. The owners of 1-year-old Armani, a Staffordshire terrier, "fell on hard times and could not keep him."
"We've definitely been seeing an influx of animals in our rescue group," said Sabrina Brini, an adoption counselor for the dog shelter.
Still, more and more owners facing foreclosure and unemployment are abandoning their pets to the streets. In Middletown, for example, there have been more animals given up than the local shelter can accommodate. Some expensive dogs, including a purebred Newfoundland that could sell for around $1,500, have been found wandering the streets, suggesting that families can no longer afford to keep them alive, said Gail Petras, the town's animal control officer.
"One thing we want to stress above all other things is: Do not abandon your pet in your home or to the street," said Nancy Peterson, an issues spe******t at the national Humane Society. "It's cruel, it's irresponsible and it's probably illegal."