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Economy blamed for fewer pet owners

8:23 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - Many local animal shelters are overflowing, but for the first time in two decades the number of pet owners is dropping.

According to our partner, USA Today, the American Veterinary Medical Association mostly blames the economy. However, local shelters say there is help for financially struggling pet owners.

The Pound Buddies shelter is about 30 dogs over capacity. Yet, shelter manager Diana Davis says new dogs like Lily keep pouring in.

"She came in last night, because her family couldn't afford her anymore," says Davis.

According to a new report, American households with dogs dropped by two million over the last five years. For cats, the number is nearly eight million. It's the first decline in pet owners since 1991.

"We get calls everyday. 'Can you take my dog? Can you take my cat?'" says Davis.

Davis says responsible owners will call ahead of time before dropping off their animal at the counter. However, employees at the shelter are also constantly checking the internet for animals that have been abandoned.

"People will say, 'I found a dog tied to my fence this morning,'" says Davis.

Davis says there are cheaper options for struggling pet owners. She says West Michigan Spay and Neuter in Fruitport charges about half price, ranging from $35 to $75. Pay it Forward in Muskegon has $15 vaccinations as well as free food for the animals.

"It makes it easier on us and it makes it so the pet can stay with the family," says Davis.

Still, the need continues to grow for anyone willing or able to adopt.

"I want all of them. I don't want them to get killed," says one lady.

"We try to make them as comfortable as possible, but we're not home," says Davis.

Davis says the high cost of medical treatment for animals is also contributing to the problem.

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