Pets increasingly given up during hard times
CHICAGO In a growing number of cases, some have to make a heartbreaking decision to give up pets they can no longer afford. It's a difficult day for Bob Estrada, who's giving up his cat to Chicago's Animal Care and Control because he can no longer afford to take care of him. "This is very hard for me to give up my cat," Estrada said, then kissed his cat. These tough economic times can be seen at Animal Control, where they have more than twice as many dogs as normal. Many, like one terrier mix, are strays but strays that were well taken care of. Many even have microchips for identification, but their owners aren't claiming them. "We've never had this many microchip dogs not being redeemed," said Anne Kent, Animal Control Executive Director. "They are clean, coats are well, well fed. They don't represent a stray animal that's been on the street for a length of time," said Sandra Alfred, Animal Control Deputy Director. Some of these animals may be winding up there because of the foreclosure crisis. They suspect people are being forced to move to apartments that don't allow animals, and they're giving up their pets. Missy is a Border collie mix given up by a woman who lost her home in foreclosure. She's now available for adoption at PAWS-Chicago. "The woman was forced to make a decision -- find a place for her children to live and give Missy up or not have a place for any of them to live," said Rochelle Michalek, PAWS-Chicago Executive Director. PAWS says normally, about 20 percent of their dogs are surrendered; the rest are strays. But now, 65 percent are dogs that were given up, a sign the tough economy is hard on humans as well as their best friends.