Up to 1 million pets at risk during economic crisis
In response to a request from DVM Newsmagazine, ASPCA officials estimate that 500,000 to 1 million cats and dogs in the country could be given up by their owners for economic reasons.
Why the huge disparity? Many shelters are not equipped to accurately report numbers and reasons for relinquishments, says Alison M. Zaccone, manager of media and communications at ASPCA.
"According to national financial estimates, approximately one in 171 homes in the United States is in danger of foreclosure due to the subprime mortgage crisis," adds Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president of ASPCA programs and its science advisor, in a prepared statement. "Considering that approximately 63 percent of U.S. households have at least one or more pets, hundreds of thousands of animals are in danger of being abandoned or relinquished to animal shelters.
"Economic issues aside, it is estimated that 5 million companion animals enter shelters each year," Zawistowski adds. "If you factor in the animals merely in danger of becoming homeless, it could result in an extra 10 percent to 20 percent increase in relinquishments to shelters. This has the potential to grow into a serious animal-welfare issue, and some regions of the United States, like Nevada - where the foreclosure rates are three times the national average - could be hit much harder than others."