Friday, July 16, 2010

Shelters filling up as Gulf pet owners struggle

The same problem has been going on around the country due to the recession.

updated 7/15/2010 3:46:11 PM ET

VIOLET, La. — Double-bunked behind the bars at the overrun St. Bernard Animal Shelter are more victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill: shiny-coated Labrador retrievers, long-haired Chihuahuas and a fluffy Shih Tzu.

Among the more typical skinny, stray mutts are healthy, seemingly well-tended dogs whose owners, because of the massive spill, suddenly don't have the time or money to keep them.

"It's the economy, the uncertainty of the future, for sure," said shelter director Beth Brewster, who saw 117 owners surrender their animals last month — up from 17 in June 2009.

May was particularly bad, Brewster said: The Violet shelter took in 288 animals that month, compared with 60 in May 2009.

Dean Howard of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said several coastal parishes began reporting a spike in owner relinquishments immediately after the spill.

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