How you can help, even if you don't own a pet
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Humane Society of the United States is running out a new public campaign to ramp up support for pet ownership, even if you don't own a pet.
Shelters are seeing an increase in animals being surrendered due to the effects of inflation and the inevitable rebound from extra adoptions that took place during the pandemic.
"This is how people who really care about animals can be empowered to help," said Kitty Block, CEO for the Humane Society of the United States. "Helping their neighborhood -- help friends keep their families together."
In fact, the National Advocate for ANIMALs said 36% of American pet owners are worried about the expense of having a pet in the current economy.
Jamie Simone visited PAWS Chicago. She chooses not to have pets but donated pet food Wednesday, It's an effort that helps the no-kill shelter, which has seen a definite increase in intake of animals in the last year.
"My father-in-law just passed away," Simone said. "We don't have any pets, so knowing that lots of people have pets and things are so expensive, we thought that we could donate it other than just throw it out."
Tana is one of 53 pets that came to Chicago from flood ravaged Florida and is ready for adoption right now. If you don't have the energy to take on a pet like this, this public service announcement campaign is all about the community being able to contribute to the care of gorgeous creatures like her.
The isolation of stay at home orders and then the move to work at home drove pet adoption up during the pandemic. The Humane Society said 22% of Americans got a pet during the pandemic.
"In general, we are seeing an increase in abandoned pets," said Celene Mielcarek, senior director of the volunteer and adoption programs at PAWS Chicago.
She points to 9-year-old Finnic, who came in with a collar embedded in his neck. With the help of bolt cutters, he is well on his way to recovery now.
"Particularly senior. We are seeing a higher number of seniors surrendered in the shelter program right now that we're looking to find homes for," Mielcarek added.
"What we are hoping for is that shelters just aren't the place to go -- is the last resort that they really can be a partner and having a lifelong relationship with pets," said Mary Ippolito-Smith, executive director at Maddie's Fund.
"Animals are surrendered to shelters because they can't afford the vet care or they live in a situation where they are not allowed to have a dog or a cat," Block said. "So how can we help, it really is a pivotal moment."