Toss ‘n runs haven’t been very common at our place since the late seventies and early eighties. The early nineties saw a spike. And it’s been a slow trickle ever since…until now.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a box with kittens on the doorstep or a dog tied up by the back door when you come in to work in the morning. Mostly they’re young and rehomable and we can handle the extras. But if the shelters’ increased relinquishment rates are any measure we’ll be seeing a lot more before it’s all over.

We’ve talked here about the horses and the property and feeding expenses. Property foreclosures and grain/hay prices have skyrocketed, leading to a bevy of beasts with no land to graze and no owner to rely on.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the same trend among pets. Cats and dogs whose owners’ homes have been foreclosed on are being surrendered to shelters at record rates.

And it’s not just shelters and veterinary hospitals providing the stopgap for others’ financial woes. Around these parts, many owners are simply skipping town or abandoning their homes with cats set free to roam and dogs left on their neighbors’ porches.

At least that’s been the experience of some of my clients’ this week. They’ve been taking over their neighbors’ responsibilities with the resignation of those who know it’s senseless to complain…when the responsible party’s relocated elsewhere and likely never to return.

So far my neighborhood’s been very stable. But then, mine seems the home most likely to be foreclosed upon. Everyone else has been living here for eons with most of their mortgages paid for and any possible second one's in manageable territory.

Still, the cats roam the streets and the irresponsible occasionally allow their dogs to roam…but it’s no comparison to what’s been happening elsewhere, it would seem.

The toss ‘n runs and neighborly takeovers are one sign, for sure, but the local shelters have got it far worse. Pet relinquishment is up by about 5% so far—not a big deal here yet, but our South Florida bubble’s on a slightly different schedule than that of the rest of the country. At least we’ve got South American money to shore us up—for now, anyway.

Elsewhere, pet abandonment rates are still soaring as home prices continue to freefall and foreclosure discussions dominate the local news. Noticeably absent in these often practical reports is advice on what to do with your pets in an economic downturn should your in-laws refuse to take on your pets when you move back in with them.

I’m sure these situations spawn more stress than most of us could ever imagine…will the kids have to change schools, whether to sell one of the cars, where to live…!? I guess it’s no surprise that severe economic hardship means the non-humans in the household will often be last on the to-do list.

For now, we’re taking the newcomers in stride, offering good-faith discounts where necessary and taking in all the toss ‘n runs—for now. It’s manageable so far, but it’s a worrisome trend I’ll be keeping you posted on in the weeks and months to come.

What’s it like where YOU live?