5 ways Minnesota pet families can weather tough economic times

5 ways Minnesota pet families can weather tough economic times
It can often be hard to find affordable pet insurance or rental housing for Pibble mixes, like the sweet dog pictured here. Check out the resources below for help.

Continuing difficult economic times are causing pet owners to make tough decisions about keeping their families together. Before you relinquish your pet, here are some strategies and local resources that are designed to help you lessen those expenses, or just give you temporary help until your situation gets better.

1. In case of foreclosure or temporary crisis, find a temporary foster. A tragic consequence of a bad economy is that countless animals that are left behind in foreclosed-upon homes. Foster my Pet helps pet owners in distress by placing their companion animals in a temporary foster home for a limited period of time.

2. If you’re short on funds for pet food, utilize a pet food pantry. The Pet Project
distributes pet food and supplies in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Elk River, Cambridge, Anoka, Hopkins, Stillwater and Bloomington. Pets of the Homeless works with local food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters to distribute pet food to the homeless and poor in their communities, including Burnsville, Bloomington, Hastings and Minneapolis. The PetCo Foundation collects food for pet food pantries and provides a listing of distribution locations.

3. Take advantage of free or low-cost veterinary services. Minnesota has a wealth of resources to prevent pet overpopulation through low-cost spay/neuter. Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program (MSNAP) is fully equipped veterinary clinic on wheels delivers low-cost, high-quality spay and neuter surgeries for animals belonging to shelters, rescues and low-income pet owners in Minnesota. The Minnesota Spay Neuter Project offers low or no-cost spay/neuter to people who receive public financial assistance. Kindest Cut also offer low cost spay/neuter for those in need. Additionally, the Animal Humane Society has put together a list of low cost veterinary care providers.

4. Find pet-friendly rental properties, and negotiate the pet deposit. If you need to relocate, it can sometimes be difficult to find affordable, pet friendly housing. This can become even more expensive when rental properties charge expensive pet deposits. First—never lie about having a pet. You’re just setting both yourself and your pet up for real trouble down the line. Instead, the Pet Project has put together a great resource for pet-friendly rental properties in Minnesota, as well as sample "pet resumes" so you can show your prospective landlord that you're a responsible pet owner!

5. Do your research regarding renters and homeowners’ insurance pet policies. Is expensive homeowners' or renters' insurance making you feel like you can't afford to keep your pet? This can be especially challenging for Pibble parents, and parents of other so-called "aggressive" breeds. Save-A-Bull offers suggestions for finding bully-breed friendly insurance.

Despite these available resources, there may be times when pet parents simply can no longer afford to care for their pets, and make the difficult decision to give up their furry family members. If that happens, give your pets a chance at a safe, happy life. Never abandon your pet—not only are you possibly condemning your pet to suffering horribly via starvation, but abandonment is considered animal abuse, and you’re leaving yourself subject to possible fines and imprisonment. Never give your pet away “free to a good home” on Craiglist or anywhere else. Unfortunately, there are bad people out there that take advantage of free pets to subject them to animal testing, use them as “bait” animals in fighting rings, or abuse them in other ways. If you must relinquish your pet, try as hard as you can to re-home the pet yourself or relinquish your pet to a no-kill shelter. This can be tough, as these shelters tend to fill up. Another option is to work with a local rescue or shelter to keep your pet until they are able to find a permanent home to you. A municipal animal control or shelter that does euthanize is a last resort. While more than fifty percent of dogs entering municipal shelters and more than seventy percent of cats are euthanized, these are still better chances and conditions than what your pet would face if “set free” in the streets or locked in a foreclosed home.

A final note—a lot of pet parents feel shame giving up their animals, causing them to be reluctant to reach out for help, or to anonymously leave their animals tied-up outside shelters in the middle of the night. Please, think of your pet’s well being above your pride. There are so many people out there who want to help, and many understand that at any time, any of us could be in the same situation of needing help just as easily.