Monday, January 12, 2009

Animals and the Economy

The steep economic downturn and mortgage crisis of the past eight months has led to a flurry of phone calls from television and print reporters wanting to know if DPVHS has been inundated with homeless animals. The truth is that, unlike our colleagues in other New England animal shelters, we have not been overwhelmed with animals becoming homeless due to foreclosures.

While it's true that the upper Pioneer Valley region has simply not been hit hard by the mortgage crisis, that doesn't mean there doesn't continue to be a crisis of animal homelessness in our community. Animals lost their homes by thousands in the Pioneer Valley long before this latest housing bubble.  Maybe they wandered away from home without identification, maybe they were born before their family got their mother spayed, maybe their special old lady died without a plan in place for her pets...whatever the reason, animal homelessness is nothing new under the sun.

And there are other signs of an economic downturn on the animals in our community.  Demand for our CatSnip program--a subsidized spay/neuter program for cats of people in need--has more than doubled. The demand on the pet food bank at our rescue center in Greenfield has surged. We are seeing more animals coming to our shelter in worse condition, causing our veterinary bills to go through the roof.

Still, the DPVHS philosophy of not just helping homeless animals but preventing animal homelessness holds firm. We know that subsidizing the cost of spaying a cat is less expensive than caring for her kittens. We know that sometimes a bag of cat food may make a difference between being able to keep a pet at home or sending her to a shelter.

As we head into 2009, we're proud to report a new food program in partnership with the Amherst Survival Center. They have begun weekly grocery deliveries to housebound seniors  We'll supply pet food for that program. Keep a eye out, too, for an expansion of our successful pet food Meals on Wheels  effort to towns beyond Amherst.

If you would like to donate food to any of these efforts (cat food is especially needed), we will gratefully accept your contribution at the Leverett adoption center or the Greenfield rescue center. Monetary donations to any of our life-saving programs are also greatly appreciated. 

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