Is Your Pet a Voiceless Victim of the Tanking Economy?

More than 1 million dogs and cats are at risk for becoming homeless, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) believes.

In response to a request from DVM Newsmagazine, ASPCA officials estimate that 500,000 to 1 million cats and dogs in the country could be given up by their owners for economic reasons.

Why the huge disparity? Many shelters are not equipped to accurately report numbers and reasons for relinquishments, says Alison M. Zaccone, manager of media and communications at ASPCA.

"Economic issues aside, it is estimated that 5 million companion animals enter shelters each year," Zawistowski adds.

"If you factor in the animals merely in danger of becoming homeless, it could result in an extra 10 percent to 20 percent increase in relinquishments to shelters. This has the potential to grow into a serious animal-welfare issue, and some regions of the United States, like Nevada -- where the foreclosure rates are three times the national average  could be hit much harder than others."