Ever feel like the poor state of the economy is impacting every area of life? Well, it is! A few examples popping up in some surprising places, like animal shelters…
Not only are jobs being lost, businesses failing, and bailout popping out all over the place, but even the more mundane aspects of life are being affected.
Behind the drumbeat of grim economic news, a lot of quiet shuffling is going on as parents pull small children out of paid child care. Enrollment at some child-care centers is falling and nanny agencies are reporting mounting layoffs as families cut child-care costs — which rival mortgage payments in many households. An October online survey by the women’s Web site BettyConfidential.com found that 12% of 100-plus parents who responded are cutting child care.
As families lose their homes to foreclosure, man’s best friend and his fellow pets are being surrendered to shelters, abandoned on the streets or even left to starve in locked-up houses, according to animal welfare organizations around the country.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, between 4 and 6 million animals are surrendered to shelters each year, and approximately half of them are euthanized because there is not enough space to keep them all.
Shelter operators say more animals are being turned over for financial reasons than in the past, and those that don’t make it to the shelters are either set free on the streets to fend for themselves or left to starve in foreclosed houses, according to animal welfare groups around the country.
“We are just getting inundated. All of the shelters in the county have been inundated with pets surrendered or abandoned by their owners because of the huge foreclosure rate,” said Judith Gardner, president and CEO of the Arizona Animal Welfare League in Phoenix.
“There are so many stories of animals being abandoned – left at a foreclosed home with no food or water. It’s just pervasive,” Gardner said.
A survey released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 36% of U.S. residents have delayed medical care in the past year because of cost, up from 29% in April. About three in ten say they have skipped a recommended test or treatment. In addition, a survey conducted in July by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that 11% of residents have reduced the number of medications they take or have decreased the dosage because of cost. According to an analysis conducted recently by IMS Health, U.S. prescription drug sales decreased by 0.4% in the second quarter, the first time that sales have not increased in at least the past 12 years.
Can-collecting, or “bottle fishing” – in order to redeem 5 cents an empty – has long been seen as a cultural divide between upper and lower class. But with the economy in a nose dive and unemployment in the state climbing to 5.5 percent, more and more people are returning their empty cans and bottles, while others have taken to the streets in search of empties.
And, of course, even holiday spending is impacted:
Almost half of Americans plan to cut their spending this holiday season, and a quarter say they’ll spend a lot less on gifts than they did last year, according to the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll. Consumers are already scaling back purchases of nonessential items and saving more money as incomes stagnate and costs rise, according to the survey conducted Dec. 6-8. Only 1 of 10 respondents plans to increase holiday purchases.
What’s next? If things get really bad we all may need to do something drastic — like cut cable TV, stop eating out five times a week, and eliminate iPhone app purchases. Heaven forbid!
(Photo: Bob Jagendorf)