A Crisis in Animal Welfare



Second Chance Animal Services calls it a “trifecta of challenges that demand immediate attention.”

First, a rising tide of inflation has led to food insecurity for both people and their furry companions, as the cost of pet-care essentials skyrockets. Housing costs, too, are soaring, forcing families to make wrenching decisions about their living situations, often resulting in the surrender of beloved pets.

Second, a veterinary-care crisis persists, with burnout among professionals causing a shortage of crucial services.

Finally, shelters are reaching capacity across the country — and not just in the South, where overpopulation has long been a problem — forcing many to euthanize perfectly adoptable pets when they are out of space.

North Brookfield-based Second Chance, which runs four community veterinary hospitals, never euthanizes for space and is taking in as many transports as it can, but its space is limited as it grapples with an increase in surrenders from local pet owners.

“We are being stretched to our limits, and I am deeply concerned,” Second Chance CEO Sheryl Blancato said recently.

But there’s hope, too, she added, citing her own organization’s efforts to keep pets with their families, from subsidized rates at its hospitals and a pet food pantry to community vaccine clinics and veterinary care at senior-living residences.

But it needs help: more volunteers, more donations, more awareness of the problem.

Meg Talbert feels the same way, as she told BusinessWest in the story that begins on page 4. The executive director of Dakin Humane Society says volunteers and foster families are critical to the nonprofit’s work, but so is financial support.

“A corporate donation or a foundation or individual giving, they really let us do the work. They are that bridge that allows us to go that extra mile for the animals, and to help people out when they’re coming to us,” she said, whether they’re at the point of surrendering an animal or having trouble affording veterinary care.

The goal, in almost every case, for organizations like Dakin and Second Chance is to keep families and their pets together. Not only is it heartbreaking to have to surrender an animal, but every pet back in the shelter system is one more animal adding to an overcrowding problem that is not letting up.

That’s why, Talbert said, every adoption of a dog, cat, or other critter actually saves two lives: the adopted animal’s life, and the animal that adoption makes room for at the shelter. Just as every surrender compounds the problem, every rescue adoption improves it.

We encourage families who want to add a pet to their home to consider adopting first, not only to reduce the overcrowding issue, but to literally save a life worthy of saving — a pet with plenty of love and appreciation to spare.

Speaking of appreciation, Dakin, Second Chance, and other animal-welfare organizations are always grateful for not only financial gifts, but volunteers. As the season of giving commences, that’s something that should give us all paws — er, pause.