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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Greenwich Shelter: Pets Become Victims of Economy

GREENWICH, Conn. – Blackie, a playful dog at Adopt-A-Dog Greenwich, is only 3 years old, but he is blind because of a diabetic condition. When his owner could no longer keep up with the medical expenses, Blackie became one of the growing number of animals that are victims of the economic downturn.

“His owner loved this dog, but he could not afford the daily insulin shots, certainly not a cataract surgery, and he’s on a special prescription diet,” said Allyson Halm, executive director of Adopt-A-Dog Greenwich. “In this economy, medical issues become very questionable for people to take on.”

Blackie’s owner is among the more than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters who adopted them from shelters, according to the National Council on Pet Populations Study and Policy.

“We’ve been getting more and more calls by people who are surrendering their dogs because of the costs,” said Halm. “We will assist if we can, because it’s cheaper to keep the dog in the home than to keep it in the shelter. The animals have absolutely raised our expenses.”

Halm said the shelter tries to assist owners by getting the animals spayed or finding veterinarians who can give owners a break on pricey surgeries.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , pet owners incur, on average, nearly $1,500 to $2,000 a year for food and medical care. For animals such as Jack, a 1-year-old Boxer who was found as a stray with many medical conditions, costs are even higher.

He came to the Adopt-A-Dog shelter from Yonkers, N.Y. suffering from parasites, ear infections and mange, a parasitic skin disease. Though playful and energetic, Jack is also severely underweight.

Animal shelters and rescue groups across the country are seeing an increase in surrendered animals as people struggle with their own living arrangements, according to the American Humane Association .

Owners need to consider costs and living situations before adopting pets, Halm says, because animal shelters do not always have space. Adopt-A-Dog often has to turn away animals that are senior or have too many medical needs. “If we fill the shelter with dogs who can’t be adopted, it conflicts with our mission to help dogs find good homes, rather than harbor them,” she said.

To learn more about the shelter, call Adopt-A-Dog at 203-629-9494 or visit Adopt-A-Dog at 23 Cox Ave., Armonk, N.Y. Adopt-A-Dog is a nonprofit that serves Connecticut and New York.

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