From unaffordable housing to pain at the gas pump and less food on the table despite a higher grocery bill, soaring prices and rising inflation are impacting nearly every facet of American life.
Sadly, the pain associated with inflation doesn’t just impact the bank account. It can also have a very real impact on the heart of one’s home, particularly when tough choices must be made between putting food on your table or in your pet’s bowl.
The truth of the matter is that in these tough economic times, pet owners are struggling to make ends meet and many can no longer afford to care for their furry best friends like they once could. We see this problem playing out in shelters across the country, from Austin, Texas, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, as affordability concerns force pet owners to surrender their animals to shelters amid the rising costs of pet supplies and veterinary care.
These shelters, in turn, become inundated with relinquished pets and are forced to house them in conditions that are rapidly devolving as space, time and resources become stretched thinner and thinner. This problematic cycle exacerbates the difficulties of both pet owners and the animals who lose their homes due to economic uncertainty.
A recent LendingTree survey highlights this eye-opening trend, noting that more than 75% of pet owners say recent inflation is making pet ownership more expensive, and 26% stating they are struggling to maintain their pet’s needs due to these spiraling expenses. Worse yet, nearly 25% of owners have taken on debt to secure their pet’s needs, with 30% of those stuck in pet-related debt owing $1,000 or more.
With 70% of households being home to pets in America, this is a community-wide problem deserving of a community-driven solution that involves players from the sidewalks of Main Street to the halls of Congress.
To help in this effort, American Humane co-sponsored Pet Night on Capitol Hill on Sept. 21, so that members of Congress and their staff could hear directly from leaders in the pet care community about the issues that directly impact the 90 million-plus pet owners in the U.S. today. By delivering this message right to the people responsible for legislating these economic problems, we can help clearly and emphatically shape the way lawmakers look at the very real problem of pet relinquishment vis-à-vis rising inflation.
Our work, however, does not begin and end on Capitol Hill.
Solutions to these challenges lie not just with our elected officials, but with all of us extending a helping hand to those pet owners most affected. Emergency grants from national animal welfare organizations to local shelters and communities are an excellent way to help keep pets with their caretakers. American Humane is proud to have provided more than 100 of these grants to shelters in need across 43 states through our “Feed the Hungry” campaign. Through this effort, we gladly served more than 1,000,000 meals to hungry animals. As we continue to provide for pets and their owners, we urge others to donate to causes like this to tangibly help those most in need.
Food banks set up by local and national organizations that offer pet food and supplies can also help ease the heavy burden placed on families with pets during these difficult economic times. When pet owners know they can access what their pet needs to live a healthy and fulfilling life, the stress on both animal and human eases tremendously.
Animal welfare organizations and individuals alike must step up to do their level best to help our fellow citizens struggling with the cost of taking care of a cherished pet. As shelters become overwhelmed and pet owners battle the economic challenges brought on by problems like inflation, we need to look to both our legislators and our fellow neighbors for support in helping to keep people with their beloved buddies.
We all know how difficult it can be to take care of a pet when you are struggling to take care of yourself. Through a combination of legislative action, emergency grants and community support, we can all help improve the lives of these pets and keep them in their forever homes with the families who need them by their side now more than ever.