March 19, 2023 at 10:04
Minneapolis CNN —As head of PAWS Atlanta, Joe Labriola can get a good sense of the region’s economic well-being from the day-to-day activity of the city’s oldest no-kill animal shelter.
And the shelves at PAWS Atlanta’s Pet Food Pantry quickly go bare.
However, during the past eight months, inflation in pet-related products and services has only worsened, rising in some cases to record-setting levels.
In February, when annual CPI declined to 6%, the catch-all “pets, pet products and services” index rose to 10.9%, veterinary services jumped nearly 2 percentage points to 10.3% and pet food increased to 15.2%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Those price increases are a double whammy for pet owners whose household finances have been weakened by persistently high inflation and for those who fear for rising instances of “economic euthanasia,” when animals are humanely put to death for financial reasons.
The recent pet-specific price spikes also are compounding pressures facing organizations tasked with providing a safety net for animals in need.
She said her pet food costs for Lola, her Australian Shepherd mix, and for Phoebe, her Golden Retriever, have doubled to $250 per month.
“We definitely, without question, have seen a dramatic increase in pretty much every one of those services,” he said, noting that the pet food pantry in particular has seen spikes in demand.
Josh Fiala, Animal Rescue League of Iowa's Pet Support Services Manager, helps load pet food into a vehicle during a Pet Food Pantry in January 2022.
Courtesy Animal Rescue League of IowaARL gave out about 40,000 pounds of pet food in both 2020 and 2021.
Last resortIn 2022, 4% more animals entered shelters than left, according to Shelter Animals Count, a national database of animal shelter statistics launched by some of the largest animal welfare organizations in the United States.
Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesBut she also highlighted the economic pressures affecting current and prospective pet owners.