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Recession hits pets

People aren’t the only victims of the recession – pets are having a hard time, too.Jerry Rinecke, who helped found SAINT Animal Rescue in Calhan, said about half their calls are from people facing foreclosure and having to abandon their pets.”We have to turn away eight to 10 animals a week,” he said.SAINT, a nonprofit, Colorado licensed shelter, has a limited number of spaces available for surrendered pets.Rinecke, his wife, Diane, and several neighbors in Calhan, founded SAINT in 2007 in response to a criminal incident of animal abuse that occurred nearby.SAINT was founded to provide a no-kill shelter alternative to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for animals in eastern El Paso County, but now, Jerry Rinecke said, half their calls come from Colorado Springs.”The majority really loves their animals, and they’re crying when they have to let them go. It’s disheartening for us to have to say no,” Diane Rinecke said, adding that people sometimes get angry when SAINT can’t help.Although SAINT has no facilities for livestock, they get four to five calls a month about horses and recently had a caller who demanded to know if SAINT could get out to a property and take an alpaca by 5 p.m. that day.Fewer people are spaying and neutering their pets.”People are delaying spaying and neutering their pets and are giving up pregnant animals,” Jerry Rinecke said. “Ninety percent of the animals we take in are not spayed or neutered.”We’re having a harder time placing kittens and older dogs, and cats have always been hard to place.”People who need to surrender a pet should not wait until the last minute, Rinecke said. Although SAINT may not have room to take an animal in, he might be able to take the animal to adoption fairs, where the pet could get a new home right away.Sharon Burnett, foster care coordinator for National Mill Dog Rescue, which has a kennel in the Falcon area, said it has always been hard to place the dogs they rescue – dogs that can no longer reproduce – because they tend to be older.Burnett knew of one puppy mill that has closed because of the economy and one in Missouri that was closed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”The rest of them are just cutting back a little bit. They keep on going,” she said. NMDR just completed a rescue operation of 20 dogs, including 10 Italian greyhounds, a Maltese, a few Bichon Frise dogs and some Pekinese.A struggling economy affects horses as well.Hilary Wood, founder of Front Range Equine Rescue in Larkspur, Colo., said the type of calls her organization receives has changed since the recession started.More people are saying they need to find a new home for a horse because they’ve lost their home or job, Wood said.”You have a tough choice to make if you’re unemployed. Obviously, you can’t afford a horse anymore and you need to find a place for that horse to go,” she said.”It takes a little time, and it takes a little effort. You need to take that time and effort because you’re the first line of defense for your horse.”Wood suggested contacting veterinarians and farriers. “These are people that work around horses all the time, so they’re more likely than you to know of someone who could re-home your horse,” she said.Contact the previous owner of the horse.Post flyers at boarding facilities and feed and tack stores.”Talk to a therapeutic riding organization or maybe trainers who give lessons if your horse is appropriate for that. Look at 4-H groups and pony clubs. There could be families looking for a horse that’s suitable for those kinds of things,” she said.The Internet, such as and, can be helpful as well but Wood said always screen potential buyers. Use Web sites like www.craigslist with caution, she said.”Never give your horse away for free. Always put a market value on it,” she said. “You want to avoid the dealers and the kill buyers. What’s the easiest way for a kill buyer to make an additional profit? Pick up all the free horses out there.”Wood does not recommend auctions, where Rinecke said a yearling thoroughbred recently went for just $35.”Auctions are another way for your horse to end up in a bad situation,” Wood said. “Kill buyers, dealers and less scrupulous people are there, as well as a few good people.”There are a few money-saving ideas that might help people keep their horses through the rough time, she said.Horse owners living in an equestrian community could use the same veterinarian for all fall and spring vaccinations and save on the farm call and maybe get a discount. People in those communities could use group purchasing power and buy directly from a hay dealer, splitting a semi-load.Horses cannot forage for themselves over the winter. There’s plenty of hay around. Start stocking up now, when the prices are low, Wood said.For those who board their horses, she said ask them about exchanging services for a reduced rate. Clean stalls one day a week.”If you own your own property, (and) have extra stalls and the time to do it, maybe you can take in a boarder or two,” Wood said.”If your horse can be ridden, a lot of people who can’t afford to own a horse may want to do a temporary half or full lease, and take the burden of the expense off of you,” she said.

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