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Hard times hit the pets
by Kathy Gordon, For the Tribune
Oct 13, 2009 | 1130 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tom Jacobs sees the emotional toll of the economy on pets.

He watched as a couple walked teary eyed in to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals facility Monday morning to surrender their Jack Russell terriers because they cannot support them.

“Animals can sense that the humans have given up on them,” said Jacobs, director of the Nevada SPCA. “It’s hard on them.”

It’s a typical story, Jacobs said. There’s not enough money and they have to move to an apartment.

“People feel comfortable bringing animal here because they know we will not euthanize them,” Jacobs said.

This has led to shelters taking in more animals than they should, Jacobs said.

The normal return rate for the SPCA is 11 percent. In 2008 they had a return rate of 17 percent. Jacobs said that 20 percent of 2008 animal surrenders were because of foreclosures. Six percent of returns were from families that had the animal for longer than two years.

Beata Liebetruth, animal help desk manager at the Nevada Humane Society, understands.

“We have never had more animals in the shelter than now,” Liebetruth said.

Within the last year the number of phone calls and e-mails received about animal surrenders has doubled, according to Liebetruth.

Sixty-two percent of the animals are surrendered or unclaimed.

She attributes the spike in numbers to the decline of the economy.

“People are losing their homes,” Liebetruth said. “Costs are becoming to much.”

Because of the economy, a lot of apartment complexes in the Reno-Sparks area are changing their pet policies.

Based on calls to 10 different apartment complexes in the Reno-Sparks area, four out of 10 have changed their policies to allow larger animals. Five have not changed their policies and one complex has always allowed larger animals because it competes with low-rent housing.

Of the 10, three have breed restrictions, one has breed restrictions but no weight limit, one does not allow “vicious breeds” (e.g., pit bulls) and the rest have no breed restrictions.

One complex said they are changing their pet polices to accommodate more people. For example, they raised their weight limit.

For persons who are unable to find a place to live that will take their animal, Liebetruth recommends that calling the Humane Society.

“If you know that you are going to lose your home, we will exhaust any and all options to keep the animal with the family or find a home for the animal so that it doesn’t have to come to the shelter,” Liebetruth said.
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Hard times hit the pets by Kathy Gordon, For the Tribune

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