For many people, pets are like family members. But starting today, those relationships will be tested by rising vet bills and inflation. We spoke to animal rights activists and animal shelters.
For most people, pets are not only a welcome distraction from the stresses of everyday life, but also a part of the family. But rising living costs and the energy crisis are putting the relationship with your beloved pet to the test. Because many people can no longer afford to keep their animals. As of today, there is another major problem for many owners: veterinarians will have to pay higher fees in the future.
Basically, high maintenance costs rarely lead to people handing over their pets to animal shelters or even abandoning them, explains Hester Pommerening, spokeswoman for the German Animal Welfare Association. But at the moment several problems are coming together. Because the financial situation of many people is currently tight due to the energy crisis, the cost factor could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, says the animal rights activist.
One such factor: Rising vet bills. Today, November 22nd, a long-planned increase in the scale of fees for veterinarians comes into effect. This also increases the costs for pet owners. According to ” felmo “, an agency for mobile veterinarians, a general examination of a cat could now cost up to 23.60 euros. Previously, keepers had to pay nine euros. Dog owners also have to dig deeper into their pockets: instead of 13.50 euros, a general examination also costs 23.60 euros. At the same time, every home visit to pet owners costs an additional 41 euros.
According to Pommerening, a comprehensive survey is difficult, but there is already feedback from animal shelters: some animals such as reptiles are already ending up there – presumably because the costs for heat lamps, which most reptiles need, are becoming too expensive for their owners. “In any case, our great concern is that animals will be given up or abandoned because the owners can no longer or do not want to bear the costs,” says the animal rights activist. Kristina Berchtold from the Munich animal shelter confirmed this to FOCUS online. “Very often, financial reasons are given when submitting,” said the spokeswoman. There are various factors:
It doesn’t usually happen that people give away beloved pets carelessly because of high costs, says Pommerening. Most would rather try to cut corners elsewhere in order to be able to keep their animals. “Unfortunately, the experience of the past few months has already shown that many people wanted to get rid of animals they had bought without thinking about it during the Corona period,” says Pommerening. This situation could now continue.
Animal shelters in particular have been the first port of call for overwhelmed owners for years. According to the Berlin animal rights activist, in the summer of 2022 in particular, many people gave up pets that they thoughtlessly bought during the pandemic – so-called “corona animals”. These include, for example, dogs that require a lot of care, which take a lot of time to get used to people and are difficult to adopt. In order to adopt animals, animal shelters sometimes have to use creative methods. The Munich animal shelter regularly advertises animals on platforms such as wg-gesucht.de – where young people are usually looking for shared rooms.
Although this situation surrounding the Corona animals has calmed down in the meantime, many animal shelters have imposed admission freezes. Berchtold reports long waiting lists for admission to the Munich animal shelter. The new fee schedule and rising veterinary costs could exacerbate this.
At the same time, facilities are struggling with rising prices for energy, feed, vet visits and staff. Above all, rising energy costs are an enormous problem: A random survey by the German Animal Welfare Association shows that many animal shelters could face an increase of up to 129 percent.
In Germany, animal welfare is primarily organized on a voluntary basis and relies on donations. The German Animal Welfare Association criticizes that politics and administration have rested on the laurels that private associations and animal-loving people would get involved and handle animal protection more or less on their own. This system is now on the brink, because: With rising costs in combination with a decrease in donations, many animal shelters can no longer fulfill their tasks.
“We assume that many animal shelters will not survive the winter without a rescue package,” Pommerening told FOCUS online.
No one wants to voluntarily give up a beloved pet. If you are in financial distress and unable to care for your pet, animal boards can help. They support people in need by donating food and goods for their animals. There are animal boards in:
An overview of animal boards in Germany can be found here.
The original version of the text said that a new fee of 41 euros would be charged for each visit to the vet. According to the new Fee Ordinance, however, this amount is only due for home visits by veterinarians to the owners of the animals. We corrected the mistake.