Editorial: Pet owners responsible for animals’ lifelong care | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Pet owners responsible for animals’ lifelong care

You know the economy’s in the tank when people can’t afford to care for their beloved pets. That certainly seems to be the case in South Lake Tahoe, if recent hardship cases are a valid indicator.

The choice pet owners are making these days is similar to the dilemma the elderly frequently face: With limited money, do they pay for food and care for their critters, or spend the money on other necessities?

For some in our area, the choice is obvious: They have to give up their pets.

This past winter, the Lake Tahoe Humane Society fielded requests for charitable assistance at an unprecedented rate, about twice what it normally receives, said the society’s executive director, Dawn Armstrong.

According to Armstrong, charitable assistance is designed to help pet owners cope with their animals’ financial emergencies.

“It’s about helping people through tough times when they need it,” Armstrong said this week. “If these people are eating noodles, their pets are, too.”

If predictions that our economy will worsen before it improves come to pass, more pet owners may face critical choices about their animals. Now is a very good time for all of us to think twice about acquiring animals.

For people with dogs and cats, local veterinarians offer these tips to help avoid expensive pet care bills: Avoid allowing dogs to freely roam, except in designated areas. Keep them on leashes to prevent them from getting into fights with other dogs, getting hit by a car or attacked by coyotes.

Cat owners should keep their pets indoors to avoid contracting diseases and coyote attacks.

If we’re unable to continue caring for our animals, we should try to place them with family members or friends. As a last resort, we can bring them to our community animal shelter.

Remember: Pets are part of our families, and as such, we owe them respect and love. We made commitments to care for them throughout their lives. If we can’t, it’s our responsibility to ensure someone else can.

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