As the worldwide economy sours the most vulnerable among us — pets and children — are facing a doomsday of a New Year.
People are forced to give up their pets to shelters for the killing because they can no longer afford to provide for their welfare:
A growing number of Americans are giving up their dogs and cats to animal shelters as the emotional bonds between people and pets get tested by economic ones.
From the Malvern, Pa., man who turned his two dogs over in order to help pay for his mother’s cancer treatments, to the New York woman who euthanized her cat rather than keeping it alive with expensive medications, rising economic anxieties make it increasingly difficult for some pet owners to justify spending $1,000 a year or more on pet food, veterinary services and other costs.
The effect has been cramped quarters for dogs and cats, a faster rate of shelters euthanizing animals and some shelters turning away people looking to surrender pets, according to interviews with several shelters and animal advocates. Of the estimated 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats sent to animal shelters every year, half are euthanized and the rest adopted, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
“It’s definitely discouraging for us,” said Adam Goldfarb, a Humane Society spokesman. “One of our major goals is to develop and celebrate the bond between people and animals. It’s so tragic when families reach a point when they can’t afford to care for their pets.”
In Homeland Insecurity, we are left with these hard, research facts and figures against our children:
* 13 million American children live in poverty’s grip. The U.S. has the worst child poverty rate among 24 rich countries. Over the last 45 years, U.S. policies produced spectacular drops in elderly poverty rates; now the elderly are the least poor. During the same period, child poverty remained constant. One reason: Federal spending in 2007 was nearly seven times greater for persons over age 65 than under age 18 — $27,289 per person versus $4,000 per person, respectively.
* Eight million American children are without health insurance. Over a two-year period, nearly 27 million children will have no coverage for at least some period of time.
* More than three million children are reported abused and neglected. About 1,500 U.S. children die each year as a result of abuse or neglect at home, with nearly 80 percent of the fatalities involving infants and toddlers under the age of four.
* Only half of eligible three- and four-year-olds are served by Head Start, the government’s early childhood development program. Early Head Start, for infants and toddlers under three, serves only one in 20 of those eligible.
* Nearly two million children have parents in prison.
* As many as 14 million children are on their own after school. Among them are an estimated 40,000 kindergarteners.
How did we arrive at this vicious, dark, place in our history where the animals are suffering and the children are abandoned?
Why isn’t there a greater community investment in helping those among us who are unable to provide for their own, basic, safety?