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The Ruff Report: A roundup of news about dogs Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, 2008

Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, 2008

Humane groups say recession takes toll on pets

Animal welfare groups across the United States are reporting a surge in cash-strapped pet parents being forced to give up their companions and many others turning to food pantries for help.

Jimmy Gonzalez, the animal control officer in Bridgeport, Connecticut, says he has seen an increase in the number of people turning pets over to shelters in the past year because they have no choice.

"We do get a lot of people here who are totally distraught about this," Gonzalez told the Connecticut Post. "I've had people come in here and say they've driven into the parking lot, then turned around and left three or four times before making the decision that this is what they have to do."

So far this year, the Michigan Humane Society has received and more than 1,100 calls about abandoned pets in the Detroit area, humane society official Jan Cantle said.

"About 28 percent of our calls are drop-offs," Cantle told Michigan State University School of Journalism's Capital News Service. "The economy is affecting the ability of people to care for their pets."
Pleas for help from overcrowded shelters have come from:
  • The Arizona Humane Society. Spokeswoman Kim Searles told the East Valley Tribune of Phoenix that the economic downturn is forcing some pet parents to move from a house to an apartment where animals, particularly certain breeds, are not allowed. "Currently, we have so many cats that we can't get them an adoption," Searles said.
  • Friends of Animal Care and Control in Arizona. Executive director Melissa Gable told told the East Valley Tribune of Phoenix that it is not unusual for the Maricopa County shelter to take in more than 100 animals a day. "If this trend continues, [Maricopa County Animal Care and Control] could see nearly 10,000 more dogs and cats" by the summer of 2009.
  • Santa Barbara County Animal Services in California. Community outreach coordinator Stacy Crump says 150 more dogs have been given up to the shelter compared with last year and more than 400 stray dogs have been taken in. "It's a really, really hard thing. People love their animals, and they don't want to give up their animal," Crump told 6 Action News - KSBY of Santa Barbara. The shelter is receiving so many pets that it is running out of space and is even housing animals in its grooming room.
  • The Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham, New Hampshire. Sheila Ryan, director of development and marketing, says the number of adoptions is down because of the economy. "Our incoming numbers are about normal, but what we have been hearing, more often the cause for surrender is financial." Ryan told the Portsmouth Herald. "Some people come right out and say they're losing their home due to foreclosure. Most people say they are moving and can't afford their dog any longer."
  • The Centerville shelter operated by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. MSPCA spokesman Brian Adams says 107 people have had to surrender pets this year. Of that total, four pets have been surrendered because of foreclosures and 23 because their owners could no longer afford them. "We are definitely seeing additional surrenders at our shelters due to foreclosures," Adams told the Cape Cod Times.
And food assistance efforts include:
  • Lowcountry Pet Food Bank of North Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston Animal Society president Charles Karesh says the new food bank gives out dog and cat food to pet owners on disability, government assistance and others with economic troubles on a case-by-case basis. "What we want to do is eliminate the problem of people not being able to feed their animals," Karesh told Live 5 News of South Carolina. "We feel like that is a basic requirement that families ought to stay together." The Animal Society says it has seen an increase in the number of animals surrendered due to tough economic times within the last three months. It gets about 10 animals a week whose owners say they just cannot afford to take care of them.
  • Paws for a Cause pet food pantry of Fairfield, Maine. Del Pomerleau, one of the organizers, says she wants to make sure pets get the nourishment they need and is concerned many pet owners are finding it difficult to provide for their companions. Donations have come in the form of food and cash, Pomerleau said. "People have been so generous," she told the Morning Sentinel of Maine.
  • The SPCA Pet Adoption Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The SPCA is distributing the pet food to help families with budget problems avoid giving up their pets. The pantry is open on the third Saturday of each month, News & Observer of Raleigh reports.

Petco's goal is to raise $3 million for rescue groups

Nearly 950 Petco stores will hold a national adoption event on the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9 to coincide with the San Diego-based retailer's annual fund-raiser to help animal rescue organizations.

The Petco Foundation's Annual Tree of Hope, which runs through Dec. 24, is trying to raise $3 million for local animal shelters.

"There are millions of wonderful pets in shelters across the nation - in all of our communities - waiting to be found and adopted into loving homes," Beth Mars, an official for the Petco Foundation, stated in a media release. "Combining Tree of Hope with a national adoption event in all of our stores will provide a venue and much-needed funding to local rescue organizations that give homeless animals a second chance to live and love."

Petco is encouraging its customers to consider adoption before the purchase of any companion animal. The company also encourages anyone looking to give a pet as a gift this holiday season to consider a gift card so that the recipient may choose their next companion animal themselves.

Petco customers can purchase card ornaments for a $1, $5, $10 or $20 that will be donated by The Tree of Hope to animal welfare groups. Customers donating $20 or more will receive a special Petco Foundation reusable "Seed of Hope" bag, and every new pet parent on Nov. 8 and 9 will receive the same bag stuffed with goodies.

Since its inception in 1999, the Petco Foundation has raised more than $45 million to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the foundation, Petco works with and supports more than 5,500 local animal welfare groups to help find homes for nearly 200,000 adoptable animals every year.

Visit for more information on Tree of Hope and the Petco Foundation.

N.H. company gives rescue dog new wheelchair

A New Hampshire company that makes products for pets with special needs has adopted a rescue dog as its mascot and given the pooch a state-of-the-art wheelchair., in celebration of the American Humane Society's October adopt-a-dog month, has given Lucy a new Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair to replace the duct-taped model she arrived in and is now’s poster dog, the company stated in a media release.

"It's great to see companies who care about animals as this is not something that happens each day," John Jablonski of said in the media release. Lucy, 2, a black mixed-breed dog, was born in Puerto Rico. She was hit by a car and left by the roadside die, but she was rescued by Second Chance Animal Rescue.

Lucy had multiple irreparable fractures and lost the use of her hind legs. She recovered at Second Chance Animal Rescue, which found her an old dog wheelchair.

Lucy was at the rescue in Puerto Rico for some time and had settled in as one of their "rescue dogs," meaning she was likely to live out her life there. Her photo was posted for several months on pet adoption web sites and through coordinated efforts with Wynn Dog Rescue in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, a match was found for her. She was flown in a cargo plane to New Hampshire, where she arrived with her slow, old wheelchair.

Lucy's new wheelchair has allowed her to have an active life. She enjoys briskly strolling with her new owner all around Peterborough.

National pet sitters group collects presents for pets

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters will hold its annual "Presents4Pets" campaign from Sunday, Nov. 2, to Saturday, Nov. 8.

The program runs in conjunction with The Humane Society of the United States' National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. Members of the association collect pet food, toys, treats, bedding, harnesses, leashes, and other supplies that shelters and foster groups need for the thousands of homeless dogs and cats that they serve each year.

The idea for the collection campaign began in North Carolina when a pet-sitting business, Homesitters of Raleigh & Cary, began collecting food and blankets at Thanksgiving and Christmas to help a local SPCA and Wake County Animal Shelter. Jerry Wentz, owner of Homesitters of Raleigh & Cary later became a volunteer with the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. During his tenure as president in 2006, he turned the concept into a the "Presents4Pets" national program.

"The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters collaborating with local agencies ... in order to make a positive difference in the lives of needy animals is necessary and commendable," said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina director of The Humane Society of the United States.

Veterinarians will be acknowledged for their work

A national search is on to find six veterinarians who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

The "Thank Your Vet for a Healthy Pet" contest - sponsored by Morris Animal Foundation, Hill's Pet Nutrition and BowTie Inc. - is being held to raise awareness of the work veterinarians do and the lives they enhance. One national and five regional recognition awards will be given out.

"Our goal is to recognize the outstanding efforts of veterinarians who play a vital role in the health of their patients and positively impact their communities," Patricia N. Olson, president and CEO of the Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation, stated in a media release.

Hundreds of animal lovers nominated their veterinarians for the contest. A list of the nominees can be found at Four veterinary professionals, including last year's prize-winner Dr. James Cook, director of the comparative orthopaedic laboratory at the University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary School, will judge the contest entries.

The winners will be posted at and; featured in the March 2009 issues of Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy and Veterinary Practice News and on and; and honored at the February 2009 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas.

Pet parents turning to natural foods

Sales of pet food at natural supermarkets are surging, a report has found.

The study, done by Packaged Facts, found that natural supermarket pet sales increased 22 percent in 2007.

For several years, leading natural supermarket chains, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, have been outperforming mainstream grocers as consumers embrace natural and organic products of all kinds, the study found.

The report concludes that pet food recalls in the spring of 2007 greatly benefited natural supermarket sales. Sales of pet products in those stores rose 18 percent in the first week of April 2008 compared with the last week of March 2007.


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