Economy forcing families to give up pets

They say with the rising cost of food and gas, they can't afford to keep them.

A growing number of pets are being left at shelters, orphans of the economy as families struggle with their finances and tough decisions.

10-week-old Isabella, a great dane, is going to be a big part of Erik Bratton's family.

"She'll get to 120-130 pounds, a lot of dog food, that's about 30-40 pounds a week, around $200 a month in food," Bratton said.

Over at the Fayetteville animal protection society shelter, Chris Womack is seeing family pets being given up because their owners can't afford to keep them.

"A lot of it is we are getting ready to start a family and we can't afford to have a pet," Womack said.

That's what happened to Zeppelin, a 2-year-old bulldog mix and Freedom a one-year-old german sheppard. And it's not just dogs, cats too.

Victims of their owner's downsizing across the state and nation, a lot of shelters are getting full.

"We are booked up with people bringing in pets for the next 6-8 weeks; at this point it makes you wonder how much of the economy is contributing to this," Womack said.

She says some pets come from low income or elderly families; because it's a matter of priorities --putting food on their table, gas in their cars, paying for animal food and pet vaccinations.

Fayetteville Veterinarian Dr. Dana Leaher says he hasn't seen a drop in his office visits, and warns it's not wise to ignore to put off pet vaccinations and check-ups.

"And talk to your vet about what is absolutely required and try to work out something instead of ignoring the whole situation," Leaher said.

Womack worries as more families struggle with finances, more and more pets maybe put out of house and home.

However, some good news shelter officials say is while the number of pets that have been given up is growing, so are the number of people looking to adopt.

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