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Higher housing costs force more pet owners to give up their dogs

Lisa Spillman can’t imagine life without her dog, an 8-year-old mixed-breed Chihuahua named Rosebud. But she says her household expenses were becoming unwieldy.

“Everything — rent, groceries, dog food — it’s all going way up,” Spillman, 52, told CNBC.

And she is not alone.

According to a new survey by pet care site Rover, the majority of pet owners say they are spending more on their animals than they were six months ago. More than 90% of pet owners in the US say they have noticed an increase in pet-related costs due to inflation, up from 71% who said the same in January, according to the survey.

Rover also found that to adjust to rising prices, pet owners are cutting back on things like food, treats and accessories for their dogs.

In some cases, owners have been forced to say goodbye to their furry best friends.

Spillman, who lives in Tucson, was forced to move after rent shot up nearly 40%. His only option was a place that didn’t allow dogs.

“Losing my baby, who loves me so much, hurt me so much,” Spillman said.

Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson is hearing more frequently from pet owners who have been forced to relinquish their animals due to housing issues, such as eviction or a lack of affordable housing, according to shelter director Monica Dangler. A year ago, housing-related deliveries accounted for 6% of shelter deliveries; now they represent 18%.

Dogs waiting to be adopted inside the Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona.

CNBC

“It’s amazing. And it’s, you know, sad that people have to give up because of things that are out of their control because of inflation and rising costs in the housing market,” Dangler said.

While the number of animals entering shelters is down more than 14% from before the pandemic, shelters across the US are still overwhelmed with animals, according to Shelter Animals Count, which tracks animal shelters around the world. the country. So far this year, 6% more animals have entered shelters than have left, according to the organization.

“Many shelters are reporting in recent months that the reasons people need to abandon their animals have changed,” the organization’s executive director, Stephanie Filer, told CNBC. “Issues related to housing or finances are now more commonly seen as the reason families, often with tears in their eyes, are forced to say goodbye to their family pet.”

Dog owner Lisa Spillman, 52, hugs her 8-year-old dog, Rosebud.

CNBC

In Kansas City, Missouri, the KC Pet Project expects to welcome a record number of pets this year, 15,000, compared to about 10,000 on average in recent years, according to director of communications Tori Fugate.

“We need the community to help us get through this, through adoptions, fostering and just helping us save lives,” Fugate said. “I highly recommend you reach out and get involved with your local shelter.”

So far in 2022, 40% of the dogs that have entered the shelter have been abandoned by their owners as a result of financial or housing limitations.

“[Families] they don’t want to give up their pets, but they come to us as a last resort because they have no other options,” Fugate said.

Exterior of the KC Pet Project in Kansas City, Missouri

CNBC

A few months ago, Veronica Gurrola had to say goodbye to her two miniature schnauzers, Oreo and Cookie.

“It got to where I had to choose, you know, my kids, you know, over our pets,” Gurrola told CNBC. “Having a mortgage to pay… all those things… it all adds up. And it seems like everything is going up except, you know, paying.”

One shelter in New York City, Animal Care Centers of NYC, reported that 4,567 animals have been surrendered so far this year, up 22% from the same period last year.

“Due to the economy, a lot of people need to move to different places,” said the shelter’s director of marketing and communications, Katy Hansen. “They lost their job or can’t afford the 30% rent increase anymore, that’s one of the main reasons people have to give up their animal.”

For some, the separation is temporary. Both Spillman and Gurrola were able to get their dogs back.

Your local shelters have foster programs that place dogs on a short-term basis while owners recover.

“I’m very grateful for that,” said Spillman, who now lives in a pet-friendly house in Tucson with a backyard for Rosebud. “She’s very active. She missed us a lot, as much as I missed her.”

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