Friday, September 19, 2008

Bad economy is taking a heavy toll on pets

I switch the TV channels whenever there is a news story about the abuse of animals.

I can't stand the thought of such innocent life suffering at the hands of humans. But earlier today, I could not avoid the story as we visited with our local vet who is key player in the local no-kill sanctuary for animals called Happy Tails.

Our good vet told my wife and I of the explosion of animals being dumped on shelters and Happy Tails. In Metro Nashville, officials are putting down 80 animals a shift. And there are three shifts in a day, he said.

Happy Tails is doing its best to take as many animals as possible. But the deluge is too much. At the Williamson County Animal Shelter, cages with animals line the walls. Still, the staff there is so kind to all the animals.

An older small dog they call Granny was brought in by a family that could not afford the vet bill that would be accrued for needed liver surgery. So they brought the animal in to be put down.

But the good staff there -- while not being able to afford the life-saving surgery -- befriended Granny and kept her free behind the front desk. She was happy, wagging her tail, getting treats when she wanted and receiving gentle touches on her head for contentment. It was a wonderful sad story as the staff waited for this gentle dog to die.

Caring for pets in most households is considered discretionary spending. And that kind of spending is going be under more pressure in a difficult economy over the next year or more. Our vet fears the coming winter, when heating bills will probably force families to turn in even more pets.

I hate to know this story. But it can motivate those of us who so love animals to support those institutions trying to make a difference. And perhaps each of us can open our homes to another animal and save an innocent life. You'd be making an investment in a kinder world.

So go by your local animal shelter. And if you can't take in another innocent life, consider giving even a little bit of money to places like Happy Tails so they can take in the innocent life for future adoption when the economy gets better,

Granny sure would appreciate it.

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