Many people have had to give up their sick animals during the economic downturn. It's hard enough for stray animals to find a new home, but add an illness into the mix, and it's almost impossible.
Veterinarian Katy Nelson says she sees it far too often that owners can't afford treatment for their pets. "We've definitely had owners come in and we've recommended doing something and they just flat out can't afford it," she said.
One of those cases was a puppy who broke his hind leg.
"The vet told the owner, we'll have to amputate the leg. he said no, too expensive, put the dog down," said Susan Mardula. She's the new owner of the puppy, and she says the dog is doing just fine on three legs. He's called "speaker" "and unfortunately he's lived up to his name. He is very loud!" Susan says.
At the animal welfare league of Alexandria, Carrie Drummond says in three years, they've seen a 30 percent increase in the number of animals surrendered by their owners. Most have to let go of their pets because they just can't afford them anymore.
Shelters have to turn away animals. Others have stepped up adoption efforts -- so as not to increase the number they euthanize. They're asking families who aren't affected by the recession, to help those who are by adopting animals, with medical needs or not.
"If you really open your heart, open your mind -- you might have to open your wallet a little bit -- but if you take these pets home then often you're going to get big reward out of it," vet Nelson said.
"Speakers" new owner agrees. "To be around an animal that has had such heavy past burdens and still has an uplifting positive spirit about him -- it's contagious," she said.