The Combination Of Too Many Pets and Poverty

Dog and Kids

Many people that live on the western side of Tennessee have become “accidental” pet owners.

Late night dumping of unwanted dogs is a regular occurrence in this area. One resident in this area has 13 dogs because of these drive-bys. People either have the choice of letting the animals starve, get hit by a car, or take them in. They choose to accept them in their home.

The problem with this is that these residents have bigger hearts than their wallets. They have become closely attached to their numerous pets, but they cannot afford to sterilize or vaccinate their pets. These owners even scrape by to provide food for their numerous pets. Even county governments lack funds and do not maintain animal shelters or require licensing or enforce rabies requirements.

Veterinary experts say that this combination of pets and poverty creates unhealthy conditions for oversized animal populations and poses a risk to human health.

Dr. Bob Sumrall, a veterinarian in nearby Henderson, in Chester County, estimated that more than 75 percent of the thousands of dogs in the county alone have not had rabies shots. “This poses a definite health risk,” he said.

From New York Times:

“A lot of poor people here end up with lots of dogs and they get a feeling of hopelessness, they don’t know what to do,” said Sherrye McKinnon, who works for pet-rescue groups in the region.

The Swetmans live on a back-country road near Finger. They keep two dogs in their cluttered concrete-block house, two tethered to trees and the rest in three wire pens. They somehow eke out $26 a week to buy two 50-pound sacks of dog food.

“I’d do without food myself before they do,” Ms. Swetman said. But they say with some despair that veterinary care, which can run $100 a year per animal for vaccines and $100 or more for spaying or neutering, is far beyond their reach.

A clinic was set up in Selmor’s National Guard Armory in mid-June. This HSUS sponsored program sends volunteer veterinarians and students to Appalachia, Indian reservations and other areas to sterilize and treat pets when people cannot afford to pay for these services themselves.

“With every animal we prevent from having a litter, we’re making a difference,” said Tammy Rouse, Appalachian coordinator for the volunteer service. Inside the hall, three veterinarians and 28 veterinary students spent 15-hour days sterilizing up to 50 dogs and cats a day and provided vaccinations, deworming and other treatments.

But the volunteer service faces a Sisyphean task, Ms. Rouse said.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing artery,” she said. “Spay-neuter has to go hand in hand with education and legislation.”

13 Responses to “The Combination Of Too Many Pets and Poverty”

  1. Donna says:

    We have goverment funds for the dumbest situations.Like social security for illegals,medical care foer illegals.I say stop this out pouring of cash.Use these funds for aiding the people of the U.S. that are in poverty ,for them and the pets they care for.Spays and neuters and health care and food for the pets and aid our own people that are in poverty.U.S. funds for U.S. people and pets.It WILL make a difference !

  2. Dennis says:

    A lot of local rescue shelters and humane groups have a monthly low cost or free spay/neuter program. The vets as part of their required services for license renewal spend time spaying/neutering feral and stray pets.

    My sister had nearly 30 cats living outdoors with her own inside. The 30 cats were feral or strays, often dumped by people. She worked with the local group using their loaned traps to catch and then she transported the cats to the shelter. There, they have a production line set up. They charge $15 and I think if the person cannot afford that, they may do the work free. That is a big difference from the $200 some vets charge for altering pets.

    The cats were gassed in their cages since many aren’t that friendly. They were then lined up on tables and the vets worked their way down the line with many volunteer assistants helping. Once the cats are awake, they are returned to their area, and released after a short recovery. To make it easy to see that the stray/feral has already been altered later, they typically use a laser and either notch or cut the tip of the ear off.

  3. catmom5 says:

    Sure seems as though the large organizations would help support some of these folks who are doing their best to take care of the animals others consider “throw-aways”! C’mon, ASPCA, HSUS, NSAL, etc and step up to the plate here. Volunteers can’t do it all!

  4. lanijack says:

    Man and domesticated animals did well for hundreds of thousands of years before HSUS hove on the scene persuading the niave to volunteer and the better off to donate hundreds of millions of bucks. And for what end? To eradicate humans from having pets. The story behind the LIED animal shelter in Nevada illustrates HSUS at its best (worst). Big bucks donated but none went to vaccinate the animals. Parvo hit. Over 1000 animals put down (too expensive to treat). Celebrities from cross country were flown in and a new LIED shelter in NV was opened. New massive donations to HSUS were accepted. Of course the money couldn’t be spent on vaccinating the animals. Parvo hit again and over 1000 more animals were put down. WAKE UP!!! HSUS like every other animal rightist organization is out to eradicate humans having pet animals which goes hand in glove with the federal NAIS program to prevent individuals from having livestock.

  5. KELLY says:


  6. JJ 2 says:

    When a community in Washington decided to vote on whether or not to go no-kill by implementing a proven program (thus saving thousands of dogs’ and cats’ lives) HSUS tried to prevent the vote. Fortunately, the town ignored them and has committed to going no-kill. What I don’t understand is, why would HSUS actually PROMOTE the unnecessary killing of animals in shelters when proven alternatives exist, and why would they try to discourage a town from implementing a no-kill initiative that would save lives? They’ve given no explanation as to why they opposed the no-kill initiative. I certainly do not trust HSUS anymore.

  7. Sonya says:

    So called pet activists just want to decide who is worthy to have pets and who isn’t, whatever is in the best interest of the animal isn’t their main priority.

  8. Moonbeam says:

    Some believe it is better to be dead or killed in a shelter than to live in a low income household or a multi-pet household eating leftovers.

  9. Lorri says:

    Where’s PETA to come help these pets?….I guess they would rather spend their money defending Arsonists….

  10. bw says:

    I must say that it sounds like the HSUS is in many ways similar to the Federal Fish and Wildlife agency. Both do far more harm than good for animals. It rather seems that like Fish and Wildlife, their agenda is NOT to help animals at all, but just to pay their own salaries at the expense of the animals they are supposed to be helping. Fish and Wildlife lives off of blood money made on hunting licenses and associated activities, and is responsible for countless unnecessary, and dreadfully cruel deaths because of its scientifically unfounded and unresearched rulings in all areas having to do with animals. Its solutions to most animal / human conflicts is kill the animals, especially if they can make some money selling licenses or getting paid for doing the killing themselves. Unfortunately for the poor animals, F and W usually are able to convince uninformed people that killing the animals is the only possible solution to any problem, and they always seem to find a way to get paid for the killing.
    The American public has no idea at all of the many totally inhumane practices of the Federal Fish and Wildlife agency, like selling licenses to import and to hunt endangered species on private game farms. Most of the public still is under the impression that federal animal preserves are refuges, and don’t realize that they are really maintained as game farms for hunters. Having lived across the street from a preserve, and awaking to the gunshots I know this for a fact. I had always thought the animals were safe in their REFUGE, some refuge!! It was closed to the public on hunting days, and the grass was cut down in certain areas so the animals couldn’t hide. More money for F and W.
    So many practices by F and W are really quite unbelievable. The list is endless. Their trapping and gassing of Canada Geese is particularly gruesome. Canada geese are able to hold their breath for feeding under water, and so the gassing takes a long time as they scream pitifully, terrified as they climb all over each other in panic and desperation when many are crammed together, locked in the small metal boxes and slowly agonizingly suffocate. It may take up to 15 minutes. (sp) Volunteers one year in my area were in tears by the time the killing was done one year. They were stunned and said they had no idea of the cruelty and utter brutality of the method when they volunteered. There are other humane solutions, but since F and W wouldn’t make money on those methods, they recommend the killing which they DO get paid for. F and W is a dirty name amongst the animals lovers in my area. Gassing is illegal in NJ, because it is too cruel, but Fish and Wildlife can do it anyway because they are a federal agency!!!!

  11. Donna says:

    Two years ago, I heard an ad on the radio pleading for money from our local humane society. My business is directly related to animal care.I have hundreds of clients, who love animals. When I heard the plea for “help”, I put out calls and went to see my self. We donated hundreds of pounds of food, medicine, pet toys and a transport van. My eyes and ears are trained to”read between the lines”. Only,what I see, do I believe. I listened to the the volunteers and workers talk. I saw mothers with new borns in horrendous conditions, illness and near death every where. No litter boxes for cats, just shredded paper. As many as eleven kittens on , very under weight mothers. When I asked why? No litter boxes.The director said, “it kills the kittens”. The group we took to treat and foster, were covered in fleas, mothers not producing milk, lack of food and extreme stress factors,(housed with dogs). We are trained in critical care, so we set up an emergency isolation care ward at my business.Most of the kittens, were too far gone.Flea anemia and lack of clean conditions and treatable disease left to go to far for infants. I am still floored to this day at the conditions I witnessed at the “humane society”. The national humane society offers grants and educational help to smaller humane societies that have “hit a rough patch”. I asked for help for our the local humane society.The national group contacted the local group.The local group denied needing help, since they “really were NOT a humane society,but ANIMAL CONTROL ! They were paid $300,000 dollars a year to control the amount of animals ! NONE of this money was to help the animals, it went to pad someones pocket ! The pleas for help on the radio , was for cash donations.They really did not want the supplies. We used to donate a portion of our profit to aid the local humane society.Now I tell people not to take pets to the humane society, it’s kinder to have a vet put the pet down or adopt the animal out minus the “humane society”. It not about caring, it’s about greed.And tremendous suffering for any animal that has the misfortune to end up at the “humane society”. Nothing HUMANE about greed, that causes SUFFERING ! Now, we do the cash donation direct to an animals needs.We aid and teach people to be caregivers. And show them why it is vital to spay and neuter pets.

  12. Mary says:

    I have participated in TNR of feral cats in my neighborhood. The cats keep coming from low income apartments a few blocks away. They like having pets but don’t want to get them fixed. Education doesn’t help either. It ends up costing more to keep feeding extra cats then it would to use low cost spay neuter once. I want to help the cats. I pay for TNR out of my pocket because I feel like I am saving a life. The thing is the cycle never ends. There are just more and more cats because they couldn’t fix the first one. Personally, I think if you want to have an unneutered animal you should have to have a breeder’s license. I know we are talking about people living in poverty, but maybe the idea of getting fined for letting pets reproduce out of control would open their eyes.

  13. Gindy says:

    “What I don’t understand is, why would HSUS actually PROMOTE the unnecessary killing of animals in shelters when proven alternatives exist, and why would they try to discourage a town from implementing a no-kill initiative that would save lives?”

    No cash flow to fund their big wig salaries and pension funds.
    If all homeless pets disappeared today, just think how many folks would be out of a job. It’s like defense contractors, why be against war when it makes you money and pays your bills?

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