Abandoned, stray pets a public expense

By on September 4, 2009

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Paying for a pet’s care is becoming increasingly more difficult for some people to afford. As a result, the number of abandoned animals is rising, which results in increasing costs for communities.

“Some people just can’t keep them (their pets),” Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said. “People are cutting expenses and that unfortunately is sometimes one of them.”

Every time police pick up a stray pet, Elburn must pay approximately $150 to have it transported to and housed at the Kane County Animal Control Center, unless the owner claims it from the center, Smith said. In that case, the owner pays the costs charged by the center.

The center’s director, Mary Lawrie, said the facility is housing more stray pets lately whose owners do not claim them. One factor in this increase is that lately, many people can no longer keep their pets because they have been evicted or their houses have been foreclosed on, Lawrie said.

Aging pets are sometimes abandoned because their owners cannot pay for the animal’s needed medical care or cover the expense to have a veterinarian put down the animal.

Some people do not claim their lost animals because their household budgets are too strained by the cost of pet food and routine vet bills.

When Elburn police find a lost or abandoned pet, they first check to see if it has an ID chip, using a chip reader at the police station. If it does not, they place the animal in an outside holding area at the police station for the day so that the owner has an opportunity to recover the animal. If no one picks up the pet, the animal is impounded by the Kane County Animal Control Center, which keeps them in its shelter until they are adopted or accepted by a rescue agency, Lawrie said.

For people who do not want to give up their animals but cannot afford their care, the center helps them find sources of donated pet food and supplies.

“We want people to be able to keep their pets,” Lawrie said.

Animals found recently in Elburn
Within one month this summer in Elburn, police reported three stray or abandoned pets that were not claimed:
• An aged, yellow Labrador mixed-breed dog was found abandoned in a cage next to the fenced K-9 holding area behind the Elburn police station at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

• Police picked up a stray, small, old, nearly blind, beagle-type dog at 9:45 a.m. July 15 in the 1300 block of Independence Avenue in Elburn.

• Someone left a black and tan terrier-mix dog in a cage in front of Elburn Animal Hospital early in the morning on July 14.