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Local animal shelter sees more pets in economic downturn

SARANAC LAKE - Dogs and cats may not pay the bills, but that doesn't mean pets are unaffected by the current economic downturn.

Tri-Lakes Humane Society manager Lena Bombard said crippling mortgage bills and higher rent costs are making it difficult for pet owners to make ends meet.

In recent months, the shelter has accepted numerous animals from individuals who can no longer afford their pets. Bombard said the expenses associated with food and pet care sometimes force owners to turn in their dogs or cats.

In one case, Bombard said, a woman acquired a dog and, just days later, lost her job.

"She had set the vet appointments and everything for the dog to be neutered, and then she realized after losing her job that she wasn't going to be able to afford the vet costs," she said. "Unfortunately, her option was to try and find placement, and she did the responsible thing by coming here to ask first about placement, and we were able to take him at the time, so we had her sign him over to us."

In another case, a young woman was forced to move back in with her parents due to rising rent costs. "She couldn't afford to keep her cat and her parents didn't want it, so she came to us," Bombard said.

Bombard said it's an emotional experience when an individual has to turn in a pet due to economic factors.

"It's very difficult when someone comes in with an older dog and has to part ways because of money," she said.

For owners who do find themselves in a situation where keeping an animal is no longer economically viable, Bombard said it's best to contact the shelter in advance.

"Definitely as far as giving the shelters a heads up, if you know that you're leaving your apartment or moving or you're losing your house, try to give the shelter as much time as possible to assist," Bombard said. "We've had people call us the day they're leaving and it kind of puts us in a hard spot where we're trying to make room for an animal we weren't prepared for."

There are other options available to pet owners on a limited income, Bombard said. The Tri-Lakes Humane Society regularly makes donations of dog and cat food to local food pantries and the shelter itself stocks a food pantry as well.

"Nobody wants to be put in a position where they can't purchase a small bag of dog food because they need the money to feed their family," Bombard said.

Individuals who need to discuss placement of an animal should call the shelter at 891-0017.

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