More people are struggling to care for their animals in the current economy, says Alberta Animal & Municipal Enforcement Services in Red Deer.
Enforcement director Sgt. Duane Thomas said more pet owners are seeking help.
“We’re not seeing a lot of people giving up their animals. People still value their pets and want to keep them. But we definitely have seen an increase in the amount of people looking for assistance with food and litter and things like that, even medical issues,” Thomas said.
Thomas said there has been an increase in the number of animals coming in this year with viruses because they were not vaccinated.
“They are not taking them to the vet. That’s an economic thing. The cost of doing that now is pretty expensive, so it’s not getting done as much as it used to be.”
Dr. Lisa Lomsnes, of Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital, said the cost of veterinary care is a factor for those on tight budgets in cities, but especially rural areas.
“The majority of people are very conscious about the welfare of their animals and will do what is necessary for sure, but the economy has definitely affected the veterinary industry,” Lomsnes said.
She said when it comes to pets, clients tend to focus on routine care, while costly treatments are postponed if not 100 per cent necessary.
“People still need to eat. People need to pay their rent. People need gas. So their animals get pushed a little to the bottom of the list at times.”
But being proactive can prevent health problems and costs from escalating. Pet insurance is an option that can help, she said.
Lomsnes said in rural areas, ranchers and farmers continue to face hardships that can impact their livestock, which in turn affects rural veterinary practices.
Those clinics are an integral part of communities, but especially contribute to the sustainability of many small and rural communities by providing animal care and employment, she said.