In rough economy, animals left behind

NASHUA – The whirlwind recession and sinking economy has affected nearly everything in its path. More and more people are foreclosing on their houses. Even more are losing their jobs.

And according to new statistics released by the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, even beloved family pets aren’t recession-proof.

The Humane Society for Greater Nashua reported that they have seen an 86 percent increase in animals turned in to them this year, due in large part to the current economic conditions.

“I think people have been holding on to their pets for as long as they can, just like they are trying to hold on to their house,” said Tammy DeVito, animal care director at the Humane Society. “But some of them can’t, and we have been that last resort for them.”The increase in the number of pets released to them has been substantial, according to the Humane Society. In June 2008, there were 184 animals that were released to the shelter, and, they figured that this year, the number would be comparable and planned accordingly. But in June, they received 343 new animals, an increase of 86 percent.

“If you go back and look at the data, our months are pretty much the same year to year,” DeVito said. “There was a small increase this year over last year for every month, but it hadn’t been super dramatic until we looked at the June statistics.”

DeVito said paying for the cost of medical treatment for animals is one of the biggest reasons for the large number of releases.

“It’s having a profound increase in the population,” DeVito said. “People just can’t afford to keep their pets, and we have people coming to our door, having medical concerns with their pets. And they really can’t afford treatment.”

The largest increase in animals has seemingly come from the release of cats. September is typically the busiest time of the year, with around 90 cats arriving at the shelter.

“Right now, we are housing 142 cats,” DeVito said. “And we have another 100 cats in foster care.”

When a cat is placed in foster care, it lives in a safe home with a willing family on a temporary basis. The Humane Society also provides all of the medical costs for the cat and anything else the cat needs until the society has a place for the feline.

“We really need to get these cats adopted, so we can open up space for the other cats to come in,” DeVito said.

To offset the increase in animal population at the shelter, the Humane Society decreased the adoption fee of its animals. It is also opening a veterinary clinic and providing low-cost vaccine and other cost-efficient services for animals.

“We want to try to provide customers with better vet care at a cost they can afford,” DeVito said.

And despite all of the problems pet owners are having in keeping their furry friends, the Humane Society, which is completely funded by donations, is still receiving a lot of support from the surrounding area.

“People have been really good about responding to things in that way,” DeVito said. “Our community has always been super supportive of us, and, thank God, because we really couldn’t do that without them.”