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A Different Kind of Economic Indicator: MO Abandoned Pets

October 23, 2008

Jefferson City, MO – The hard economic times are forcing many Americans to cut costs and, for some Missouri families, the crunch to cut expenses includes abandoning their family pets. Pets are being put into shelters across the state at alarming rates, causing many facilities to fill up and fill waiting lists of up to three months.

Saving money shouldn't be the only consideration when a pet is removed from a home, however. Children's advocates suggest considering how the decision could effect a youngster's sense of security. Rebecca Gordon, director of development at Missouri KidsFirst says taking a child's companion away adds to an already stressful home situation.

When a family pet is given away, Gordon explains, parents can send an unspoken and unintended message - that children are 'expendable,' as well.

"It certainly draws a line for that child about where their place is, not only in the world but in their family. So it's very important for parents to constantly say, 'It's okay, we're going to be all right' - even if, as an adult, you don't feel that way."

Gordon adds that, when families are in financial crisis, negative emotions can run high and rub off on the younger family members.

"The economic situation can tremendously impact how children, animals and families are, really, structured together and how they're working together."

When giving up a pet cannot be avoided, Gordon says, it can help for parents to reassure their children that they are loved and safe.

For more information on ways to talk to children about tough decisions in tough times, visit

Laura Thornquist/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MO