If you were forced to make the decision between feeding your child and feeding your pet, you'd probably come to the conclusion that Fluffy must go. With foreclosures aplenty and unemployment increasing, it is getting harder for everyone to afford basic care for their pets. But before resorting to last-ditch solutions, local businesses and organizations provide some preferable alternatives.
Susan Guider, office manager at Banfield, the pet hospital in Medford, says that responsible pet ownership begins with a sensible understanding of an animal's basic needs. She adds that people don't always consider the high cost of caring for a pet before making such an investment. She emphasizes that pets come with a substantial price tag that includes costs for food, vaccines, health care and more.
If you or somebody you know is forced to relinquish a pet, contact one of these dedicated organizations before ever considering abandonment.
Southern Oregon Humane Society: (541) 779-3215, ext. 100
Jackson County Animal Care and Control: (541) 774-6654.
C.A.T.S. (Committed Alliance to Strays): (541) 779-2916.
Those thinking of getting rid of their pets may want to ask well-known responsible friends and family if they can take the animal. If not, Guider recommends putting an ad in the newspaper or getting help from the Jackson County Animal Shelter or the Humane Society. She also says that there are individuals out there who will foster pets until they can find permanent homes.
The Southern Oregon Humane Society has already received animals from people who have been forced into foreclosure. "It would be a horrible choice if people were faced with feeding their kids or feeding their pets," says Bill Templeman, executive director for the Southern Oregon Humane Society.
"It really is never a good idea to abandon your animal and it's against the law." Instead, he says, contact the Humane society, C.A.T.S. or the Jackson County Animal Shelter to explore alternatives. "The fate of the animals can be just horrible if they are abandoned."
If it is just feeding an animal that is difficult, ACCESS can help provide pet food. The Humane Society can also help with that.
For those struggling financially with pet health care issues, many animal hospitals raise money for charitable trust funds. They use the money to help clients who are unable to pay for minor services for their pets. Banfield can also recommend vets who take payments.
For those left without an option — taking pets that are unable to be provided for to an animal shelter is the only remaining option. Once that occurs, pet stores like Petsmart offer space to local animal shelters and thereby facilitate the adoption of pets into lifelong homes.
According to Jessica Douglas, a spokesperson for Petsmart, 3.4 million pet adoptions have occurred since Petsmart opened in 1989. Education and awareness are of utmost importance. They have trainers in their stores who are available to speak to pet parents or potential parents at any time to offer advice.
"Our priority is helping homeless pets find lifelong, loving homes," says Douglas.
For those who are unable to fit a pet into their budget but love animals, Templeman encourages them to volunteer at the Humane Society. Get your animal fix, and then adopt when the time is right, he says.
Having an animal is a huge responsibility and taking proper care of it is an even bigger one. Whatever your decision, please make sure it's humane and caring.