Veterinarians worry about pet abandonment and find ways to help


Our survey found that many of you are worried about pet abandonment, but you're finding ways to reach out in your communities to help.

When pet owners run out of money, sometimes it's not just veterinary care that falls by the wayside—it's the pets themselves. Stories have been trickling in for at least a year about animal shelters struggling to cope with the higher volume of abandoned and relinquished pets. Some pet owners can't afford food for themselves, let alone their animals. Other owners face housing issues. In the ongoing mortgage crisis, real estate agents and police officers have found pets abandoned inside foreclosed homes or backyards. Our survey found that a significant minority of you see pet abandonment as a major problem, but few attribute it to the economy or have seen greater numbers of homeless pets. For those who do see a problem, we've got examples of how general practitioners are helping.

Analyzing abandonment

Case studies

Help animal shelters

Veterinarians are helping homeless pets, animal shelters, and local humane societies in creative ways these days. Here are a few examples:

> Dr. Chanda Holschbach's practice, Packerland Veterinary Center in Green Bay, Wis., has teamed up with the local humane society to help place difficult or less desirable pets. The hospital displays the pets in the waiting area and commits to keeping them until they are adopted. There have been times when the hospital has held these pets for over a year, but eventually all the animals are adopted out.

> Drs. Peter Farrell and Michael Rach, owners of Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital in Burnt Hills, N.Y., care for wildlife at no charge to the finder.

> Dr. Thomas Burns, owner of Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth, Mass., maintains a pet fund that provides care for animals brought to the practice from surrounding towns' animal control departments. The practice also conducts an annual rabies clinic.

Top 5 strategies, in order, for helping with homeless animals

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