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The Pet Inflation Problem: As Cost of Living Increases, People Are Giving Up Their Pets

People are giving up their pooches — and it’s all due to inflation, according to a study from late 2022.

There are fewer pet owners, especially among low-income Americans.

Photo by Samson Katt: https://www.pexels.com/photo/smiling-african-american-female-stroking-dog-on-sofa-5256176/

Pet adopters in households that are classified as low-income are more apt to re-home their pets, while more affluent households continue to purchase luxury items and services, found a recent study.

Ironically, during the pandemic, Americans adopted millions of pets. More than 23 million American households adopted a pet during this period, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Re-Homing Pet Movement

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found in its annual “APPA National Pet Owners Survey” that 35 percent of pet owners say the expense of having their pets is causing them stress, with half of them expressing they might have to give them up because of the rising living costs, The Washington Post reported. The survey was conducted in September 2022.

Higher-than-average consumer prices, especially during the earlier stages of the pandemic, affected Black households more severely than their white counterparts, Market Watch reported.

“When the economy is struggling, families are struggling,” said Lindsay Hamrick, director of shelter outreach and engagement at the Humane Society of the United States told WaPo. “That shows up as surrenders.”

The report show that 14 percent of pet owners cannot afford their pets, and 12 percent of them will be re-homed as a result. For various reasons, 9 percent of owners say they cannot take care of their pets anymore.

The current U.S. inflation rate is 6.5 percent, the lowest since October 2021, but it leaves pets and owners financially vulnerable.

Pets have been reportedly sent back into shelters at an alarming, according to shelters. This occurrence correlates with gas and grocery prices skyrocketing. 

For dogs, the cost of food, supplies, and routine medical care would be an annual cost between $500 and $1,000. Cats are cheaper than dogs, only costing $650 for the same expenses, according to the ASPCA.

However, Forbes Advisor reports that more than 4 in 10 pet owners would go into debt if their vet bills were $999 or less.

Rent’s Too Damn High

The cost of paying for housing, the most considerable expense, keeps getting more expensive, and more people are falling behind their rent.

In October, 5.2 million households were behind on rent, according to the National Equity Atlas, and that effect puts 7.4 million pets at risk of homelessness, according to a calculator developed by American Pets Alive, a nonprofit animal shelter advocacy group.

“We are seeing more and more people coming to the shelter to surrender because of evictions … or no longer being able to afford it,” said Michele Anderson, an El Paso,Texas, area pet shelter rep told the Washington Post. “Sometimes they can’t afford food or they’re having to make a tough decision between feeding their human children versus feeding their pets.”

In a year-over-year comparison in November, the national median rent increased nearly 6 percent, and in 2021, it grew by almost 18 percent, according to real estate broker Apartment List.

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