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Financial downturn hits Oklahoma pets

BY SONYA COLBERG Published: March 29, 2009
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/> The Oklahoma City animal shelter took in more than 18,300 dogs and 9,800 cats between July 2007 and June 2008, said Catherine English, superintendent of animal welfare. About 6,500 dogs and 2,600 cats were adopted, reclaimed or transferred to rescue groups and about twice as many (17,600) were killed.

Though the Oklahoma City shelter doesn’t see an economic impact, the Paws Doberman Rescue faces problems related to owners’ personal finances.

"We have seen a lot of owners that have lost their homes and are having to give up their dogs,” Judy Swaim of the rescue said. Chows, rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepherds and dobermans are hardest to place. Apartment owners tend to avoid them.

Sometimes, pet owners suffering financial problems have to give in when clobbered by another challenge, such as poor health.

A married couple hit by hard times while undergoing cancer treatments recently had to move to a small apartment, meaning they had to give up their two small dogs to the El Reno Animal Shelter, said Mike Townsend, animal control officer.

In a difficult economy, animal welfare groups play an even heavier role in helping pets and their people, said Karen Brady, president of Volunteers for Animal Welfare.

"In these increasingly tough economic times,” she said, "we really need our pets.”

Indeed, the golden retriever, Sissy, is living proof as she romps happily with her new "forever” family. Now, she lives indoors and is a constant companion of two parents, two loving children, an Australian shepherd and four cats.