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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Animal abandonment rises with financial hard times

    When times are tough, people are not the only ones who suffer. With the economy in the dumps, more and more pet owners are abandoning or worse, murdering their loyal companions. Through good and bad, our pets are always there for us, and now it’s time to return the favor by preventing animal abuse.

    “People are simply struggling to afford to feed and take care of their pets,” said Samantha Esquivel, public relations lead at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, in a telephone interview.

    “Instead of responsibly bringing these animals into shelters or seeking friends and neighbors who can provide them with a good home, it has become increasingly common for pets to be abandoned in apartment complexes, leashed to park benches with no identification and even left out in the desert to fend for themselves,” said Esquivel.

    The Pima Animal Care Center alone conducts approximately 1,800 cruelty and neglect investigations and picks up more than 5,000 dead animals on average each year according to their website.

    Animals that do live through such turmoil are usually not “pet-seekers” first choice when browsing the pound for a new companion, as they are usually in poor health.

    It comes down to apathy, said Laura Hughes, a member of the Lucky Club Rescue Group, an animal rescue group located in Prescott, Ariz.

    “Many people just don’t see the lives of animals as valuable,” she said.

    Unsympathetic pet owners may try to avoid the small fee attached to dropping off animals at a rescue shelter, or they may not wish to look for alternative solutions if the shelter is full. Even taking your pet out back and shooting it is more humane than simply leaving it tied up to a tree with nothing but rat poison to end its suffering, a scene Hughes fell witness to while on the job. Those who do such things would rather not face the consequences of their actions, but as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”

    Unlike natural disasters, financial disasters do not happen overnight. How can our pets possibly understand when financial burden leads to the decision to give them up? Pet owners must take the time to make sure their animals still have a chance to live a good life. The act of neglect, abuse, mistreatment or abandonment of an animal is a Class 6 felony with a minimum jail sentence of six months for first time offenders.

    People who choose to adopt animals are not always prepared or educated enough to deal with the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates the cost for a large dog is $875 a year for food, medical expenses, toys and a various pet related expenses and $560 for first-year setup costs. The estimated expense for a cat is $670 a year, with first-year expenses of $365, for a total of $1,035. However, money is not the only issue here, responsibility must be apparent as well. A responsible pet owner realizes that tying one’s animal to a fence for years on end, with nothing but a bowl of food twice a day is not adequate care. If this is the extent of your affection toward domesticated animals, then you’re better off handing over your pet to a shelter. At least that way the animal has a chance to be in a home with someone who will properly love and care for it.

    Our faithful four-legged friends deserve proper care, even when we face tough financial times.

    — Max Efrein is a junior studying journalism and history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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