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  • Marcy Santos

What if I can no longer afford to care for my pet?

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

This is a difficult topic to think about. Millions of animals every year end up abandoned or in animal shelters. It is a question we hope we never have to ask, but it happens to even the most well-intentioned pet owners. Sometimes people fall on hard times, and they can no longer afford to care for their pets properly. During the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs. If you find yourself wondering if you will be able to continue adequately supporting your pets, there are places you can turn to for help. Here are a few ideas if you are in this situation.

Ask Family and Friends for Help

Before turning to strangers, ask your family and friends for help. You can create a Go Fund Me fundraising site to raise money to support your pet’s needs, or try Waggle, a pet specific fundraising website. Additionally, you may want to ask your veterinarian or local shelter. Often your local pet hospitals and shelters may know of area resources for people who are struggling financially to care for their animals.

Fostering or Temporary Home Options

Many local organizations or rescues will provide temporary home options for humans. Reach out to shelters or rescues in your area to see if they can assist you with providing fostering services until you are back on your feet. Before permanently surrendering your pet, consider temporary or foster care if it is available.

Pet Food Banks

Food is the most consistent cost associated with keeping pets. If you are having trouble affording food, search for local pet food banks in your area. Here in Montgomery County, Maryland, The Animal Welfare League has Chompers Pet Food Bank and the Montgomery County Humane Society distributes food on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is also a pet food delivery and distribution center called Love Paws.

State Specific Help

Most states have organizations that provide pet aid and financial support either state-wide or in specific counties. Most counties in Maryland, for example, have spay and neuter or vaccination assistance programs. Search for resources in your state to see what is available.

Help with Veterinary Bills

There are many organizations that have been created to help to pay veterinary bills. The Pet Fund was founded in 2003 and is dedicated to funding veterinary care for people who cannot afford it. Paws 4 a Cure also provides assistance for injured cats and dogs.

Help for Pets with Specific Diseases

Many of the health organizations providing medical assistance for pets are created to support pets with cancer, heart disease, or other individual diseases. If your pet has a certain type of illness, do some research to see if there are organizations helping pets that are suffering from their specific issue or illness.

Breed Specific Help

There are some organizations that offer breed specific support. One such organization is Labrador Lifeline, which provides financial assistance to lab owners in need. For example, one owner was unable to pay for her dog’s surgery because she lost her job during the pandemic. Labrador Lifeline helped pay for the surgery. You can search for breed specific rescues and organizations that may be able to help you and your pet.

Choose a Shelter Carefully

If there is no other option and you absolutely must surrender your pet to a shelter, choose the shelter carefully. Do not dump your pets somewhere or list your pet on social media. There have been many animal abuse cases involved with giving away or selling pets on social network sites. It is best to work with a trusted shelter or organization that will ensure the transition of your pet to a safe home.

Remember most situations are temporary and not permanent, and there are plenty of resources available to help you take care of your pet. If you temporarily cannot care for your pet, use the suggested strategies to see if you can keep your pets with you, where they will be happiest.


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