Consumer Alert: Pets in poverty shed light on a very human problem

Consumer Alert

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A major expense in 66% of U.S. households is your pet. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA, the average annual cost of caring for a cat is about $1,149. For a dog, the cost is a bit higher, at $1391.  And that cost is the primary reason many surrender their pets to a shelter.

The problem is especially pronounced in Rochester where the poverty rate is just over 33 percent, higher than any other city in the country of similar size. But our pets our family, for many essential for their mental and emotional well-being. So many folks keep their pets even while struggling to feed their families.

You may remember in January I brought you the story of a young woman I called Cathy. She and her sister were living with their children in a home without heat or hot water. Raw sewage filled the basement every time they flushed the toilet.

Cathy’s sister believed her only option was to stay in that home because she had dogs, and she couldn’t find a shelter that would take her pets. Kitty Block, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, says this situation is not unique.

“When you talk about pets in poverty, we’re talking about families in poverty,” said Block. “We’re talking about keeping pets with their families. This is a service. We are the Humane Society of the United States which focuses on animals, but we also focus on the people. And it’s vital to the people, the children of these families to have their pets … It is about keeping families together.”

That’s why the Humane Society has launched its “More than a Pet Campaign.” They remind Flower City residents that they’ve partnered with Rochester Animal Services to provide food, leashes, and resources to connect pets with veterinarians at low cost or no cost.

If you’re struggling financially, the Humane Society reminds you that there are alternatives to surrendering your pet. For those who need pet food, the city of Rochester has a Community Pet Food Pantry.

Click here for information on Rochester’s low-cost vaccine clinics.

And click here for more information on community resources for pet parents.

If you’d like to help pet parents in need, you can click here to donate to Rochester Animal Services

Click here to donate to Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester.