Pet Adoptions, Animal Care Decreasing Since Recession

It is evident that people are saving and giving up certain things: eating out, going to the movies and even grooming essentials. But shocking things people in Athens-Clarke County are giving up are their pets.

“We have seen some changes because of the economy. We have personally had a few dogs returned from adoptions because the owners cannot afford them anymore,” said Bly Blain, president of the Athens Canine Rescue. “More dogs are being turned into animal control because the owner has lost their job, or having to move.”

And as people give up their animals, adoptions are also decreasing. “We have definitely seen a drop in our adoption numbers this year,” Blain said. “I think we have had somewhere around 40% less adoptions so far this year – which we think has something to do with the economy.”

The Athens Canine Rescue, which is a rescue group that uses other foster homes, rescues animals from local shelters before they are euthanized.

Patrick Rives, Superintendent of Athens-Clarke County Animal Control, works with the ACR weekly.

“When we get an animal, we wait for a week to see if an owner will claim it or someone applies for adoption. Then after ten days, we have no option but to euthanize the animal,” Rives said. “It usually doesn’t get that far, but unfortunately sometimes we have to do it.”

Rives, who deals with animals on a daily basis, compared data from the last three years of the numbers of adopted pets and pets surrendered. Looking at January through March from 07 to 09, the numbers have been pretty consistent, Rives said.

Despite Rives’ positive outlook, the ACR is not the only adoption agency having issues. Jessica Watkins, kennel manager of Pawtropolis, said their kennel is nearly full as well.

As if they have enough work to do, their voicemail says they are full.

“As far as taking in pets to keep them off the streets…that is what we do on a day to day basis…but we have had to cut back on the number of dogs we can save,” Watkins said. “One has to be adopted before we can put another on in that foster home…and since our adoption have slowed down, we haven’t been able to save as many as we would like.”

And while kennels are filling up, vet clinics are doing the opposite. “We have definitely had less animals coming in recently,” said Dr. James Brousse, the vet at Classic City Cat Clinic. “We are not too low on our numbers, but have seen a decrease.”

Although people do have good intentions and try to help when they see a hurt animal, they need to be careful and just call us, Rives said.

“A group of people were helping a hurt dog…which turned out to be a coyote and could have had rabies,” Rives said. “So, as much as we appreciate the help, it’s safer to leave the animal alone.”

 In an article about helping strays, the Human Society agrees with safety first.

Besides the good citizen, many groups have started promoting themselves to help animals in need.

The Georgia Equine Rescue takes in horses that need a home, medical attention or a temporary stay, said Kelly Lockerman, the education director.

For other helping homes, kennels and safety tips, visit athenshumanesociety.org.

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