Pet Abandonment:
No Matter how Bad Things Seem,
There are Alternatives


Pet abandonment is a very sad subject. For most of us, our pets are like our children. We would do anything for them. That’s why the very idea of having to abandon a beloved pet for any reason – including financial distress – is too awful to even think about.

dog behind chain link fence

But the economic downturn and housing crisis has precipitated an unprecedented rise in pet abandonment. Pets are left behind in foreclosed homes or tied to the gates of animal shelters. Some are just set free to wander the streets, alone and confused.

Shelters are bursting at the seams with new arrivals, while dog adoption (and cat adoption, for that matter) is way down. For all but the luckiest of pets that end up in shelters, the outlook is bleak. Many former family dogs and cats, no longer wanted, meet unfortunate and untimely deaths due to no fault of their own.

This pet abandonment situation can be avoided, however. For those of us who would do anything to keep our pets, there are resources to help us through these difficult economic times. All it takes is a little research and motivation to find them.

If you are facing economic distress and have a beloved pet, consider the following alternatives to pet abandonment:

Choose pet-friendly housing.
If you are forced to move from your home into a rental, find one that accepts pets. There are plenty out there. Yes, this will take some extra time and effort on your part, but this is a small price to pay in order to keep your family intact – including the four-legged members. After all, if you have children, you simply wouldn’t consider leasing where they don’t allow kids. Why treat the situation any differently when it comes to your pet?

Call on friends and family for help.
If you feel your situation is temporary, find a friend or relative who will agree to take your pet in for the short term. Assure them that you will still provide the food and medical care for your pet, if they can just find it in their heart to share their home with a four-legged roommate for a while. Most of us have a soft spot for animals, and will step forward to help if we can. It can’t hurt to ask. If you don’t, then you will never know.

puppy with bowl of food

Seek out sources of free pet food.
Many people in financial distress are concerned that they can no longer even afford food for their pets. If you feel you cannot afford food, there are resources – such as local animal shelters – that might be able to donate food to you free of cost. Many shelters have arrangements with large pet food companies and only use that one brand for their animals, so they must give away or dispose of all other donated food (donations from private individuals and pet stores, for example). Shelters would much rather give you the food to help you provide for your pet than to see you abandon the animal. If you need free (or discounted) pet food, start by calling your local animal shelters. If they don’t have an excess of food to donate, they just might know who does.

Find affordable medical care for your pet.
The expense of medical care is hard enough to think about for ourselves, let alone our pets. However, there are sources for aid you can turn to. For example, more than 800 Petco stores offer low cost pet vaccination clinics as well as other low cost preventative services, such as heartworm testing and heartworm prevention medication, fecal testing, de-worming and micro-chipping, all provided by licensed veterinarians.

If you feel you can afford a once-a-year fee of a around a couple hundred dollars, you can also buy pet health insurance (VPI Pet Insurance is one such pet health insurer). Just as with human health insurance, pet health insurance will not cover one hundred percent of your veterinary bill, but in most instances it will cover a large portion of it. And, with pet health insurance, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that if your pet should suffer a major illness or injury, you will be covered. A couple of hundred dollars up front could save you the burden of worrying about thousands of dollars of pet health care expenses down the road.

Unfortunately, many people facing the emotional stress of financial hardship give up too easily when it comes to making accommodations for their pets. If you’re reading this and you have a pet, chances are you can think of countless times when you needed him and he was there for you. Now, he needs you to look out for him.

So, take the time to seek out solutions that will help you avoid pet abandonment. There is someone at home whose life is, literally, depending on it.

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