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Animal shelters nationwide report an increase in pet surrenders due to higher cost of living

Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Shelters nationwide report that more pet owners are surrendering their dogs and cats because they can no longer afford to take care of them. With rising inflation and an increased cost of living, pet owners across the country are making the difficult decision to give up their four-legged friends.

Rover, an online marketplace for pet care services, issued a March press release addressing the costs of pet care.

The report found that owners are currently spending $480-$3,470 per year for each dog and that a majority of owners are concerned that the costs of caring for their beloved pets will continue to rise. In an attempt to reduce costs, people are spending less on treats and accessories.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of pet-related products increased 8.3% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson reported that people are giving up their pets because they can no longer afford housing costs. The Arizona shelter reported a 12% increase in housing-related surrenders from last year.

Shelter Animals Count Executive Director Stephanie Filer told CNBC, "They're now more commonly seeing issues related to housing or finances as why families – often tearfully – are forced to say goodbye to their family's pet."

KC Pet Project in Missouri told the news outlet that it expects to receive 15,000 surrendered pets this year alone. In previous years, the total number of pets relinquished to that shelter averaged 10,000. Chief Communications Officer Tori Fugate, stated that 40% of the dogs at that shelter were relinquished because of housing or financial constraints.

St. Joseph Animal Shelter, another Missouri facility, reported that the number of animals being surrendered continues to be an ongoing issue. Humane educator Aubrey Silvey told KNPG-LD, "We're seeing more owner relinquishes, and usually for the reasons that people can't afford their pets anymore."

A North Carolina shelter, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, reported the same problem. Its executive director said, "Animals are pouring into shelters at much higher rate than we saw even pre-COVID, and we're seeing less adoptions happening. What that means is that shelters who for years, even decades, have not euthanized due to space constraints are facing that reality."

The Humane Society told MarketWatch, "While we don't have data on the number of folks who are forced to re-home their pet because of the lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing, we anticipate that more people will need to make this difficult decision as property owners increase rent fees."

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