Showing posts with label cost-of-living crisis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cost-of-living crisis. Show all posts

Wednesday 27 December 2023

American families dump pets as costs surge

NEWS AND COMMENT: Although some shelters have quite definitely gone against the grain in terms of having too many cats and dogs to rehome [check out the empty shelter], in general, The Times reports that US families are dumping pets as the cost to keep them has become untenable. This is mainly due to inflation and lack of proper long-term budgeting, I believe.

The Times reports that American animal shelters are at their most overcrowded in years. The reason? Fears over the economy. And the end of boom times when many dogs and cats were adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I feel (I hope not harshly) that many people adopted dogs and cats who shouldn't have. This was impulse adoption without really doing due diligence to figure out the costs and even more importantly to check out the health of the animal that they were adopted. 

That last point particularly applies to the French Bulldog which is one breed which is being dumped on shelters faster than many other breeds. Clearly the owners have found out how expensive they can be to take care of.

However, many adoptions were carried out responsibly. Many people relinquishing their companion animals have lived with them for a long time. It's be tough for some to consider relinquishing their pets.

However, according to the Shelter Animals Count, there are an estimated 250,000 more companion animals in shelters this Christmas then there were over the same period last year.

And it appears that many if not most kennel operators say that they are in crisis. Their facilities were already overcrowded before the Christmas festivities.

As mentioned there was a sharp rise in pet ownership during the pandemic. One in five households in America had a companion animal according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

There are fears over the economy in America and the rising cost of living. The cost of owning a pet is out of reach for many. They decided to abandon their animals.

Kim Alboum, of the Bissell Pet Foundation, an animal welfare organisation, said that "The economy right now is really challenging for a lot of families. And with the housing crisis, people are losing their homes and our having to downsize or move in with others. And this is a recipe for disaster for people that have larger dogs."

The Times reports that shelters are experiencing a big influx of puppies in particular including those of the French Bulldog breed as mentioned. There's been a period of inflation recently in America resulting in vets and pet product businesses raising their prices making it even more expensive to be a pet owner.

I'm told that veterinary prices jumped by 9% from November 2022-November 2023 according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Pet food costs rose by 5.6% over the same period.

Sarah Barnett runs an animal shelter in Philadelphia. She says that she has seen hard economic times which has challenged pet owners financially.

She said that people are losing their jobs have to decide between putting food on their table or feeding their companion animal. They've been left with few options.

Obviously, many people giving up their companion animals have had a very long term and good relationships with them. And I agree with Sarah Barnett in that not all people self-indulgently adopted cats and dogs during the pandemic. 


The story really highlights a very valuable point namely that looking after a companion animal properly is expensive. You can't do it properly on a shoestring. Perhaps the first stage in the adoption process is to check your budget, work out the maths, and make sure you maximise the chances that you can and will be able to afford to look after your new friend to a good standard for the remainder of their lives.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 28 July 2023

Did the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic cause "an animal welfare crisis"?

NEWS AND VIEWS - UK: Online news media, today, is blaming the cost-of-living crisis in the UK combined with the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath for "creating an animal welfare crisis with vital services [which] are stretched to the limit".

Did the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic cause "an animal welfare crisis"?
Picture by the RSPCA.

Before I go into the details of two reports from different sources about this animal welfare crisis in different parts of the UK, I would like to add immediately that it is a very poor excuse that animal welfare becomes a crisis because people have less money in their pocket or it is after the pandemic.

The RSPCA reports that there were 1072 cat cruelty reports in 2022 in Wales, UK and out of these complaints, 600 were calls concerning neglect and 89 regarded intentional harm. The RSPCA received three reports every minute.

This, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the pandemic or money. When you adopt a cat - and it does not matter whether you adopt that cat during the pandemic, before it or after it - you do so with a commitment to care for that cat for the cat's lifetime. 

And if an emergency happens or a catastrophe occurs to you which affects your finances and you feel that you must release your cat to somebody else, you commit to rehoming the cat yourself with care and concern or you take your cat to a shelter and asked them to do it. 

The RSPCA run shelters. Also, in the UK Cats Protection run shelters via foster homes.

Running out of money because of the cost-of-living crisis or because it is post-Covid is not a reason for harming your cat or abandoning your cat or being neglectful of your cat. This is very poor reporting and thinking. It is not critical enough.

Everybody goes through difficult times but you can surmount them and you don't have to give up your cat in the process. I would bet my bottom dollar that all the cat cruelty reports reported to the RSPCA had no connection whatsoever, if you analysed it properly, to the cost-of-living crisis or the pandemic.

It'll be about carelessness, wanton neglect, callousness, hating cats, immoral behaviour; all these things about more likely to be behind cat cruelty.

Separately, the BBC reports also about the RSPCA cat cruelty reports regarding 2022. The BBC reports on the county of Lincolnshire in the UK. They say that hundreds of cats were intentionally harmed, neglected or abandoned in 2022.

Apparently, it is the RSPCA who think that the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis is to blame. Are they guessing? Are they just going along with the general flow because I see a lot of news media reports on the cost-of-living crisis and how it impacts people's finances. You don't make a presumption because people are short of money that they have to be cruel to their cat. That is not an equation which adds up automatically.

Nationally, the BBC reports, that almost 18,000 cat cruelty complaints were reported to the RSPCA in 2022 and they include abandonments, neglect and intentional harm. There were 1726 intentional harm incidents which included killings, beatings, poisonings and "improper killings". This represents a 25% increase from the year before.

The RSPCA pick up the pieces. They see an awful lot of cat cruelty but this cat cruelty is perpetrated by immoral, miscreants; people who are bad and who have no sensitivity towards animal sentience. Let's not pass the buck onto something which doesn't really exist.

Friday 26 May 2023

Gen Z are trading marriage, homes and babies for cats and dogs

Since Covid (and continuing after Covid) Gen Z - those born between 1997-2012 - have traded all the usual milestones such as getting married, buying a home and having kids for a much simpler goal which is having a cat or dog or even two of them.

Gen Z are trading marriage, homes and babies for cats and dogs
Image: MikeB

The trend started during Covid because they were allowed to work from home and it continues because a lot of them are still allowed to work from home although there is a backlash building from employers who often don't like it. Elon Musk says that it is a bad idea for productivity and creativity.

But the cost of living in the UK and perhaps elsewhere has encouraged Gen Z young people to downsize their traditional objectives.

A lot of people in Britain can no longer afford to buy a home because of the high cost of the deposit. It takes years to save the money or your parents step in if you are lucky. So, there are many more people renting.

Rental prices have gone up as a result. Covid started off the trend for adopting pets because of lockdowns. People had no work as they were on furlough and many, I presume, became a bit lonely and they had the time on their hands to look after a dog or cat.

The problem is that it was a temporary situation. There's not much planning going on here. If these people are forced to return to the office they can no longer look after their companion animal properly. There will be many distressed cats and dogs too. There are already reports of dogs being poorly socialised because of poor breeding and poor caregiving.

In addition, they often adopted companion animals without proper preparation in terms of learning about what is needed and in respect of dog and cat behaviour. And of course, the budgetary requirements are very important. A lot of people are sure have found out that they can't really afford to look after a companion animal successfully.

There is a lot of instability in the pet marketplace in the UK. But Gen Z think that animals are relatively cheap compared with the unaffordable traditional milestones. I would not call caring for a cat or dog cheap. If you have a couple of pets to care for it is going to be quite expensive. There is probably some misplaced expectations here.

Pets at Home (pet products chain in the UK) said that Gen Z are adopting pets earlier than previous generations because they are perhaps delaying child-rearing, marriage and getting a flat. They are using all their energy and resources to look after "fur babies" especially in urban areas.

RELATED: Pope Francis says that cats go to heaven.

I can remember the current Pope saying that he was concerned for the reasons mentioned. Italy needs young couples to marry and have children in order to raise kids who can contribute to the economy. And the Pope doesn't like people channelling all their family emotions into pets. He wants people to love other people rather than cats. I think he is out of touch!

Monday 5 December 2022

Abandoned INBRED cats due to Covid and cost-of-living crisis

NEWS AND OPINION: This story tells us how market forces due to the Covid pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis has shaped what goes on in animal rescue and before that in animal breeding and purchase. Adopting kittens and puppies should never be impacted by market forces.

The story about this form of animal abuse comes from the St Francis Animal Welfare Re-homing shelter in the UK. It is located at Sunnyside Cottage, Mortimer's Lane, Fair Oak, Eastleigh in Hampshire. I know this is a well-reported issue, but it needs to be stressed. Covid has highlighted a poor attitude by many UK citizens to pet ownership.

Boxes of cats and kittens dumped outside the shelter
Boxes of cats and kittens dumped outside the shelter. Image: the shelter.

They say that in the summer of 2022 seven "very neglected and inbred" cats arrived from a kitten mill breeder. These cats had numerous health issues according to the rescue. And cats and kittens have been dumped anonymously outside the shelter as you can see in the photograph supplied by the shelter.

Boxes of cats were found outside the shelter. Three of the cats passed away. Two were kept by the shelter but they had severe heart murmurs.

Surge in demand during Covid leading to kitten mills

The information here then is that during Covid-19 there was a surge in demand for kittens and puppies because people were stuck at home on furlough doing nothing.

This surge in demand resulted in a surge in backstreet breeders in the UK producing kittens or the importation from Eastern Europe of puppies from puppy mills. And now, post-Covid, we have the cost-of-living crisis due to high inflation which in turn is mainly due to Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Surge in abandonment of kittens and puppies post-Covid and due to high inflation

The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in people giving up their cats and dogs because they can't afford to keep them.

And so, there is a surge in abandoned cats and dogs some of whom find their way to the St Francis Animal Welfare shelter. And they, as you can see, report on inbred kittens which clearly indicates very poor breeding practices with mothers mating with offspring for example and this happening numerous times in uncontrolled breeding or forced breeding with no concern for health.

The manager at the shelter, Helen Shaw, said that they've seen "some of the worst cases of inbreeding". And they've got 40 cats waiting to come into the rescue which is four times the normal number.

Helen rightly says that the Covid-19 pandemic is a major factor in the breeding of the kittens. And the abandonment of kittens and cats is due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Both the adoption and the abandonment are due to impulsive purchasing and impulsive throwing away of sentient creatures due to market forces created by these big events.

Bad breeders and equally bad customers

It's all down to unscrupulous breeders taking advantage of market forces and silly customers buying unhealthy kittens and cats during the Covid lockdowns then deciding to give them up when they return to work, and they can't find the time to look after them. And/or the cost-of-living crisis means they have to give them up because they can't afford to look after them. One of the first things to go is the impulsively purchased cat not the smartphone contract costing £50 per month.

The point of this discussion is that people should not be driven by market forces when adopting cats. They should not make impulsive decisions about the adoption of a cat or dog. This is a considered decision to adopt a companion animal for the life of a companion animal. There are no other considerations. This should not be an impulsive, self-indulgent decision. 

It is a long-term decision and financial provision should be made. People need to research the cost and ensure that they have the money and will do going forward. If not don't adopt.

Rescues pick up the pieces

As usual, it is the rescue centres dotted around the country which pick up the pieces. They are the ones cleaning up the mess caused by the problems created by ill informed, ill-educated frankly silly people who just think they can adopt an animal like they can buy a new television.

It is no wonder that we have animal welfare issues in this country and other countries. The attitude towards sentient creatures is simply not good enough.

My thanks to the Southern Daily Echo.

Sunday 4 December 2022

Man, who has eight companion animals struggles to survive under the cost-of-living crisis

In case you have missed it, in the UK, there is a cost-of-living crisis. This is due to inflation and inflation has primarily been caused by Putin's invasion of Ukraine compounded by post-Covid pandemic inflation caused in part, in my opinion, by greedy profiteers who've inflated their prices because people expect there to be inflation.

Ashely Goudou. Image: Mirrorpix. If there is a problem in using this picture here, please contact me in a comment. Thanks.

In this instance, a 20-year-old factory worker, Ashley Goudou, near Bristol, UK, struggles to pay his energy and food bills.

He is paid £6.81 per hour which is substantially under the national minimum wage at £9.18 an hour, which means that he has to work 10 hour shifts seven days a week to make ends meet.

But the key aspect of the story for me, is that he has eight pets according to the Mail Online. These are rescue animals and they cost him £3000 a month to support (seems inflated to me)! He earns £2000 a month!

He says that he bridges that income and expense gap with donations from his veterinary clinic. But to be honest, and I don't want to be critical of a man who is kind animals, he doesn't have to have eight companion animals comprising four cats and four dogs. And the vet can't be a charity to the tune of £1,000 per month. That's ridiculous.

It's expensive maintaining a companion animal. Even one cat is expensive if you do the job properly. Cat food is as expensive as human food. And according to the newspaper, the cost of looking after cats and dogs has surged in recent times in fact tripling from £1000 a month to £3000 a month for this man.

Ashley refuses to give up his pets because he is concerned that nobody else will be able to look after them to the same level.

He told the Mirror Newspaper that: "Handing them into a rescue isn't an option for me. I wouldn't have the heart. I rather not feed myself."

Ashley said that the presence of his animals is good for his mental health. But you could argue, too, that the stress that they place upon him in terms of their maintenance is bad for his mental health. He lives in a one-bedroom flat which is hardly ideal for one man and eight animals.

The underlying point that I want to make is that, in the UK, a lot of people plead poverty because of the cost-of-living crisis but they are not managing their outgoings properly.

You can make savings in a whole range of ways without detrimentally impacting one's life substantially. And in the case of Ashley, I think he needs to talk to his employer who appears to be in breach of the law in paying him two-thirds of the national minimum wage!

It almost looks like that he has an animal hoarding problem. That's being a bit harsh but really you can't have eight pets in a one-bedroom flat.

There are stories in the UK of people abandoning or relinquishing their companion animals to shelters in large numbers because of the cost-of-living crisis. In a lot of cases, I suspect, that the abandoned pets are those that were adopted during Covid in order to keep their owner company during those long lockdown periods.

If a person adopted a dog during Covid and then relinquished them after Covid, we have to be critical of that person. This is because you adopt a companion animal for the life of the animal. There is no other way to do it.

I would like to see less moaning about the cost-of-living crisis and a greater emphasis on how to manage expenses or outgoings in the family home in a way which minimises the impact upon the lifestyle of that person.

What about pay-as-go mobile phone contracts that cost £10 per month and not £50! Buy a cheap smartphone (sim only) and go for a cheap contract. And reduce TV streaming services. That kind of thing. And no takeaways. 

Prepare your own food cheaply. There are ways and means to cut costs.

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