Reports Increase in Pet Surrenders on Oil Spill Hit Gulf Coast

Heartbreaking images of pelicans and sea turtles drenched in oil have illustrated how devastating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been for wildlife. Unfortunately, wild birds and marine animals are not the only ones experiencing pain; family pets are too. According to a new survey released by today, 43 percent of animal shelters and rescue groups in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas are reporting an increase in pets being surrendered since the oil spill first occurred on April 20.

Of the shelters impacted by the disaster, 85 percent said the primary factors are general financial difficulty or job loss. This is not the first time has seen pets bear the burden when money becomes tight; in 2009, 84 percent of its members across North America reported pet surrenders because of the economic downturn, foreclosures and / or job losses.
“It is shocking to think how many families are being broken up because of the oil spill,” said Betsy Saul, co-founder of  “It is hard times like this when, in fact, you need your pet the most to give you comfort and help you get through hard times. We know so many of these people are going through such difficulty, and our hearts go out to both the families and the pets involved.”
The Petfinder Foundation is responding to the crisis by offering $150,000 in grants for shelters and rescue groups affected by the oil spill, in partnership with Merial's "Paws to Save Pets" and The Animal Rescue Site's Gifts That Give More™ program. The Foundation will be providing $100,000 in operating budget grants to shelters located within 30 miles of the coast, and $50,000 to Petfinder member shelters or rescue groups who have the capacity to transport or accept 10 or more homeless animals from impacted areas. Each group who qualifies will receive $1,000 for every 10 pets they transport or accept. Already, the Petfinder Foundation helped St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey transport nearly 100 pets from the Gulf to areas that have more capacity and foster care.

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