Pet shelters in the Central Valley of California have been increasing their euthanasia rates because of the rising number of older pets, animals with chronic illnesses, or less adoptable pets brought in by pet owners who can no longer care for them because of foreclosures and financial difficulties.
According to Beth Caffrey, education director of the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that the SPCA can no longer give pets more time to stay in the shelter for adoption because of the overwhelming numbers of pets being brought in. She said that the euthanasia rate for the shelter increases whenever the shelter has to choose between saving the entire animal shelter operation or a number of less adoptable animals.
Because of current financial difficulties, the SPCA board has also decided to impose charges on pet owners giving up their pets for adoption. It will charge $10 for each pet and $25 for each litter.
Caffrey explained that the shelter needs another source of funding because of the sharp drop in donations and in funding from Fresno City and Fresno County.
But there are concerns that the fees might cause other problems, such as increase in pet abandonment. Other owners may also say that the pets they are bringing in are strays to skip the fees, crowding further the shelter because it has to keep stray animals for at least 5 days before offering them for adoption.
According to Caffrey, animal shelters in the Central Valley, known for high rates of euthanasia for stray animals, had been able to reduce their euthanasia rates over the past years by their spay and neuter campaigns. But the sharp increase in pets abandoned and the sharp drop in pet adoptions and shelter donations will push up euthanasia rates in the Fresno area to about 33,000 pets this year, according to Caffrey.
Linda Guthrie, head of Animal Rescue Fresno, said the rate of dogs brought in each day by pet owners losing their homes has been rising. She said that the number of pet dogs brought in this year has reached 3,900, marking an increase of 50 percent.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the number of pets abandoned since December 2007 when the recession started has soared to about 2 million. Animal shelters could not take in all these abandoned pets not only because of sharp decreases in donations and funding but also because of fewer volunteers.