More pets falling victim to the economy

Families surrender cats and dogs they can't afford

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Local animal shelters are bursting at the seams after taking on two large animal hoarding cases in South Florida in the last two weeks; however, it's not just these big busts that are straining local animal shelters.

In Lake Park a cat adoption agency, trying to help too many people, was cited for being overrun with cats. The owner had even taken the animals into her home. This week in Clewiston, animal control officers removed more than 200 dogs when the woman allegedly breeding them became overwhelmed.

"For whatever reason, it became more than she could handle," explained Captain Dave Walesky with Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

Those were exceptional cases, he said. Most of the time surrendered pets come from individual families

"People say that they're losing their house. They have to make decisions.'Do I feed my kids? Do I feed my animals?' " he said.

That's how Biscuit, a five month old Siamese mix kitten, lost his home.

"This was one of several cats that a woman turned in because she no longer had a place to live," said Walesky.

Biscuit wound up at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control like the sixty to eighty new cats and dogs who end up there every day or the hundreds more that find themselves in area pet rescues.

Animal Rescue Force in West Palm Beach takes in 30 cats and dogs a month, although the agency gets six times as many phone calls and emails from families abandoning animals.

"We field about 100 phone calls a month and probably 75 emails a month asking for help," said Lorraine Kassarjian, a veterinarian who is also the president of Animal Force Rescue. "Most of them are people who are giving up animals because they're losing their homes. I'd say about 90% of those."

With special adoption events, places like Animal Force Rescue and Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control have hope the animals will find new homes; however, they're also hoping more people will find the means to keep their own pets.

Many food banks offer food for pets as well as people. If you know someone who needs help with one or two animals or has a large- scale situation that's gotten out of hand like what happened in Clewiston or Lake Park, consider helping them or calling someone who can.
 

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