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Inflation puts pressure on pet owners and animal shelters in Boone County | Mid-Missouri News

COLUMBIA – Rising inflation is hurting pet owners and forcing some people to surrender their dogs to animal shelters.

“We’ve seen an influx of dogs because of the economy,” said Melody Whitworth, director of Unchained Melodies. “People are losing their homes left and right, and they’re looking for places for their animals to go.”

Whitworth said many times people turn to friends and family before resorting to turning their animals over to a shelter.

“People give them to friends and family, and they don’t take care of them properly, but it’s not always the best situation,” Whitworth said.

As a result, Whitworth said many shelters in Boone County are overcrowded and can’t keep up with demand.

“Everyone is in crisis mode right now,” Whitworth said. “The need is real and adoptions are slow.”

Whitworth said adoption fees are also affected by inflation.

“The adoption fee in our area is very low compared to other parts of the country, but it still takes a lot of money to care for an animal,” Whitworth said.

Whitworth said that some people in central Missouri have been sponsoring adoptable dogs. This means that they are willing to pay someone else’s adoption fees to help the dogs find a forever home.

Additionally, Unchained Melodies sponsors the Central MO Pet Pantry outside of the Central Pantry.

“We get a lot of donations from Unchained Melodies,” said Kayla Misera, director of the Central Pantry. “Anywhere from cat food, dog food, and sometimes treats. It is very important that our neighbors have access to that because cats and dogs are part of the family.”

According to Whitworth, the Central MO Pet Pantry is one of two public pet food banks in Boone County. Misera said the pet food is available to anyone who uses the Central Pantry.

“If you’re here to shop or visit us on a monthly basis, it’s an item you can take with you,” Misera said.

Misera said that Central Pantry has seen a big increase in people looking specifically for pet food.

“Other than their monthly visit, they will ask if they can come in and only access pet food,” Misera said.

She said inflation is a big factor in community members using the pantry more often.

“We could be seeing some of our neighbors making concessions,” Misera said. “If gas prices go up, they may be buying that and not be able to buy enough dog food to get through the month.”

While rescue centers and shelters deal with all these stray animals, they also face the effects of inflation and rack up more charges than are normally allocated.

“We have a special needs dog who has stomach and skin issues,” Whitworth said. “I had to pick up a bag of groceries for him the other day, and it was $12 more than normal.”

However, Misera said it’s important to have pet food available because many people view pets as members of the family.

“They make you feel less alone,” Misera said. “They are there as part of the family as much as anyone else, and it gives them back their dignity if they can provide food for something they are taking care of.”

The Humane Society of Central Missouri runs the other public food bank in Boone County, but requires participants to have their dog spayed or neutered before accessing their supplies. Both pet food banks are supplied by donations.

Whitworth said that Unchained Melodies also helps those in need beyond the pet pantry. Dog Rescue partners with CoMo Mobile Aid Collective to help the unsheltered in Columbia encampments.

“We’re part of the favorite part of that organization,” Whitworth said. “We offer flea and tick treatments, food and treats.”

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