Pets fall prey to tighter household budgets

The tears flow these days at local animal shelters as more families say goodbye to Fido or Felix, the beloved household pets.

They are not crying because the ever-protective dogs or cuddly cats have grown old and their health is failing. They are crying because they can’t afford to keep them anymore.

"There's a sense of regret. They're mourning a loss," Brendan Wiley said of owners who had relinquished pets to Animal Haven in Merriam. "Part of it is they're feeling like a victim like it's out of their control."

Whether because of rising home foreclosures, an increasing number of workplace layoffs or mounting inflation, animal-rescue officials in Kansas City and nationwide say the troubled economy is separating many families from their pets.

"We just recently added a line for home foreclosure," Jenny Brown of Wayside Waifs animal shelter said of the paperwork that customers fill out when surrendering a pet.

The tally has reached eight since Sept. 26. Wayside Waifs surveys show that for the year, 32 animals have come to the shelter because of financial issues, 79 have arrived because of changes in their owners’ lifestyles and 193 because of a move.

Brown said that because foreclosure information was not separated in the past, there was no way to compare the current numbers with those of recent years. Then there is the embarrassment issue.

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