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Soaring Cost Of Living Causes Spike In Abandoned And Surrendered Pets

Soaring Cost Of Living Causes Spike In Abandoned And Surrendered Pets

Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times,

According to a growing…

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Soaring Cost Of Living Causes Spike In Abandoned And Surrendered Pets

Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times,

According to a growing number of reports, the soaring costs of food, gas, and housing are causing a spike in the number of family pets being abandoned or surrendered to shelters.

Vergil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, three-month-old puppies available for adoption at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Florida. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

In January 2022, the first alarming animal shelter statistics began to emerge. While an average of 6.2 million animals are taken into shelters each year, only about 3.2 million find a home. The other three million are euthanized.

Astrid, a 1-year-old mixed breed dog with a heart-shaped marking on her nose, is pictured at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., on May 27, 2022. She’s been waiting for a new forever home for more than a month. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

In March 2022, shelters in Cedar City, Utah, noted a dramatic increase in the number of phone messages being left by desperate pet owners who needed to surrender their pets, receiving as many as 30 calls from mid-January through February. Shelter administrators and staff said the number of strays and the number of pets being surrendered voluntarily are on par with the number of phone calls.

In April, shelters across Utah were reporting that millions of pets adopted during the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus (commonly known as the novel coronavirus) of 2020 were being surrendered again as the high cost of living and the return to in-person working was making it impossible for pet owners to continue to care for their animals.

(L–R) Shelter Manager Georgionna Waite, Medical Coordinator Sara Marek of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, and Missy Ritter, Animal Services Coordinator for Hernando County Animal Services sat down with The Epoch Times to discuss the surge in animal surrenders and alternatives to surrender or abandonment. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

In May, Orange County Animal Services in Orlando, Florida, reported a 37 percent increase in the number of surrendered pets compared to the same time in 2021. Officials say the increase in housing costs in the area is the primary reason why people are being forced to surrender their pets. In Hernando County, Florida, shelter administrators are seeing a similar spike in the number of family pets being surrendered or simply abandoned on the streets.

“It’s not as frequent as when COVID initially hit but we have recently had people abandoning pets on property,” Sara Marek, medical coordinator for the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, told The Epoch Times. “We had a gentleman come in trying to surrender his cat. At the time we couldn’t take it in so he did just take the cat and let it loose right in our parking lot. So, unfortunately it is happening.”

Front entrance to the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Hernando County, Fla., on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

The week before, someone had tied a dog to a pole outside of the gate during the night, which wound up going to Hernando County Animal Services.

Shelter Manager Georgionna Waite said the number of animal surrenders is on the rise.

James Schmeda, a volunteer at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, takes one of the shelter dogs for a walk outside in Brooksville, Fla., on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“As far as owner surrender requests, I would say we’ve seen an increase over the past six to seven months in general,” Waite told The Epoch Times, adding that loss of home for the pet owner is the most frequently given reason.

Mary, one of many cats waiting for a forever home, is pictured at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“That and having to move to someplace more affordable that simply doesn’t allow pets,” Marek added. “There are a lot of places that just don’t allow animals, period.”

Missy Ritter, the Animal Services Coordinator for Hernando County Animal Services, noted there is also a shortage of pet food supplies everywhere.

“In my opinion, it’s gotten better over the past two to three months, versus where we were six months ago, but you go to some stores and you can’t find cat food,” she said.

A reason suggested by Marek for the shortage in cat food as opposed to dog food is this is the time of year known in the shelter community as “cat season,” when unspayed stray female cats, known as “community cats,” are giving birth to litters of kittens. It was an opinion shared by Waite and Ritter. During these times, animal lovers in many neighborhoods take it upon themselves to purchase food to set out for these cats and their growing kittens.

The cat food shelves at a Publix store in Hernando County, Fla., appear empty during the peak of what shelter staff refer to as “cat season” on May 28, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“I know it’s usually very hard every spring to find kitten food,” Marek explained. “It’s hard to find kitten dry food, it’s hard to find kitten wet food, and when they run out of that, maybe people just start going straight to adult cat food because it’s all you can find.”

With the surge in animal surrenders, shelters are also in desperate need of volunteers to help keep staff from being overwhelmed and burned out. Because of staffing shortages, those who are there are often working long hours. Against popular belief, animals in the care of reputable shelters do not simply sit in their cages and pens all day. While the overworked staff concentrates on conducting intake interviews, processing paperwork, and providing medical care for the animals, volunteers help ease their burdens by making sure each and every animal gets fed twice a day and receives plenty of enrichment and exercise.

The sign at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., announces they are hiring on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

Volunteers like James Schmeda and Ben Moser make sure the dogs are taken on daily walks and spend time romping in one of the shelter’s many outdoor play areas. Others like Marie Jones ensure that the cats get individual attention and human interaction while they wait for their new owners to come in and finally take them home.

Waite said there has also been a drop in donations, which shelters like HSNC depend upon for the care and welfare of their furry charges.

A “Wish List” of items regularly needed at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“With our facility we’re seeing a drop in the donations we are requesting,” Waite clarified. “We use Purina One here. We take in all donations but that’s what we feed our dogs primarily. We’ve had to switch to Pro Plan, which is better quality food, because it’s what we’ve had donated. But that’s because there isn’t enough Purina One available. It’s the same thing with our kittens. They’ve been switch to Purina Kitten Chow because we don’t have enough of the Purina One available.”

Shelters like HSNC rely completely on the generosity of people in the community. Many of the animals who are brought to the shelter are in need of medical care. Some have serious skin conditions. Some have been starved. Others have broken bones.

The more serious cases are those who have been physically abused or used as bait dogs in illegal dog fighting. Many of the animals arrive pregnant, and once they give birth, one animal turns into six or eight. Financial donations help them provide needed medical care and to cover staff pay and facility expenses. While financial donations are always welcomed, items needed regularly include food, toys, dog beds, leashes, collars, and cat litter.

Asked if they had suggestions for alternatives to shelter surrender or abandonment, Waite said rehoming on the part of the owner is one method of finding their pet a new home, by “reaching out to family members, friends, neighbors in the community.”

Ritter suggested posting information about the pet’s availability for adoption on social media, advising that “listing the animal with a small rehoming fee tends to get rid of some of the shadiness behind rehoming an animal online.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a warning on Craigslist that “animals given away for free can, and unfortunately often do, meet gruesome fates.” Pets might end up in the hands of animal abusers or by someone who is looking for a bait dog for dog fight training.

To further assist pet owners in finding a safe and loving new home their pets, there are also online rehoming websites like Pet Adoptions Network and Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet.com, which walk pet owners through a detailed screening process that involves applications and pre-adoption visits with potential new owners.

Waite also noted that “if you are rehoming your animal online, you can deny people. You don’t have to give it to the first person who shows up and says, ‘Yes, I’d like your dog.’ You can still say no.”

“You have to do your best,” Marek advised. “Go through the vetting questions. You can also contact any shelter and find out what kind of vetting questions they might ask potential adopters. A lot of shelters provide resources on how to rehome on your own. You can even do an internet search for questions to ask. There are lots of options out there.”

The Little Pet Pantry, located just outside the front gate at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., is fully stocked with free cat and dog food on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

To assist those who are considering surrendering their pets because they can’t afford to feed them, HSNC generously gives back to the community by keeping its Little Pet Pantry, located just outside of the front gate, fully stocked with free cat and dog food.

Ritter said Hernando County Animal Services (HCAS) is becoming overwhelmed with strays. In fact, Florida law states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to harbor, feed and/or keep any stray animal unless he or she has notified animal services within twenty-four (24) hours from the time such animal came into his or her possession.”

In other words, if you find a stray, shelters like HSNC are not legally allowed to take the animal in. Strays must first go through the county’s animal services department. Making matters worse, Ritter said while stray dogs are pouring in, their dogs adoptions have essentially come to a full stop.

“I looked at a report today and we have two small dogs that have pending adoptions,” she lamented. “Other than that, nothing. None of our big dogs have adoptions. In fact all of the shelters in the area are full because no one is adopting. So we’re having a hardship because we are the only shelter in the county that takes in stray dogs, so we’re having a hardship trying to place all of these stray dogs because they’re coming in hand over fist and we’re not able to get them out quick enough.”

Ben Moser, a volunteer at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., plays with one of the shelter dogs in an outdoor enclosure on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

Sadly, the number of strays and surrenders has become so overwhelming that they are being forced to euthanize some of the animals to keep the numbers from getting out of control.

As of right now, Ritter said that number is very little. Last week, they had to euthanize one dog. It was the first dog they had to put down in the past several months. Thankfully, Ritter said they have great partnerships and a lot of other rescue services and shelters that come out and take the overflow animals so they don’t have to go through the painful necessity of euthanasia. “But now that everyone is starting to get full again because no one is adopting, it puts all of the animals at risk.”

Ritter said she’d recently spoken to Pasco County Animal Services, and employees there said they’re having the same issues. They said their contact in Hillsborough County told them the same thing, and that they opened up a warehouse just for new intakes because the Hillsborough County shelter facility was full.

“Unfortunately, Hernando County doesn’t have that luxury,” Ritter said. “If it keeps on going it could mean we have to euthanize again.”

Cheyene, one of the many felines available for adoption at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville, Fla., is pictured at the shelter on May 27, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

Marek noted that she has seen an increase on social media of shelters pleading for people to adopt.

“Especially in the south,” she said. “Alabama, Georgia, Texas. A lot of states in the south are having trouble moving medium-sized and large dogs. Just nobody wants to adopt and they’re all just flooding in and not going anywhere.”

In an effort to give the animals exposure to the public to improve their chances of adoption, HSNC holds adoption specials. So does HCAS. In fact, Ritter said an adoption special they held last week helped find five of their dogs a new home. But even with those five that left, Ritter said they were full again by the next Monday morning and had to euthanize.

“That just goes to show you how may animals are coming in every day,” she said.

For anyone who wants to help but isn’t quite prepared to adopt, Waite, Marek, and Ritter offered a number of ways to help alleviate the pressure on local shelters. Primarily, “Foster, adopt, and share.”

A foster is someone who is willing to take an animal into his or her home without the commitment of adoption. While in a foster’s care, the shelter assumes all financial responsibility for food and medical treatments. However, if a foster has room in their home and heart and is secure enough financially to care for an animal, adoption is always preferred.

For those who are unable to do either but still want to help, the shelter employees said a lot can be accomplished by sharing the information and photos of available pets with family, friends, and neighbors, especially through social media.

“The further the reach of the information of the animals we have available, the better the chance we can get an adopter through the door,” Waite said.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/04/2022 - 12:30

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Spread & Containment

War, peace and security: The pandemic’s impact on women and girls in Nepal and Sri Lanka

The impacts of COVID-19 must be incorporated into women, peace and security planning in order to improve the lives of women and girls in postwar countries…

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Nepalese girls rest for observation after receiving the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 in Kathmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Attention to the pandemic’s impacts on women has largely focused on the Global North, ignoring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, which continue to deal with prolonged effects of war. While the Nepalese Civil War concluded in 2006 and the Sri Lankan Civil War concluded in 2009, internal conflicts continue.

As scholars of gender and war, our work focuses on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. And our recently published paper examines COVID-19’s impacts on women and girls in Nepal and Sri Lanka, looking at policy responses and their repercussions on the women, peace and security agenda.

COVID-19 has disproportionately and negatively impacted women in part because most are the primary family caregivers and the pandemic has increased women’s caring duties.

This pattern is even more pronounced in war-affected countries where the compounding factors of war and the pandemic leave women generally more vulnerable. These nations exist at the margins of the international system and suffer from what the World Bank terms “fragility, conflict and violence.”

Women, labour and gender-based violence

Gendered labour precarity is not new to Nepal or Sri Lanka and the pandemic has only eroded women’s already poor economic prospects.

Prior to COVID-19, Tharshani (pseudonym), a Sri Lankan mother of three and head of her household, was able to make ends meet. But when the pandemic hit, lockdowns prevented Tharshani from selling the chickens she raises for market. She was forced to take loans from her neighbours and her family had to skip meals.

Some 1.7 million women in Sri Lanka work in the informal sector, where no state employment protections exist and not working means no wages. COVID-19 is exacerbating women’s struggles with poverty and forcing them to take on debilitating debts.

Although Sri Lankan men also face increased labour precarity, due to gender discrimination and sexism in the job market, women are forced into the informal sector — the jobs hardest hit by the pandemic.

Two women sit in chairs, wearing face masks
Sri Lankan women chat after getting inoculated against the coronavirus in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in August 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The pandemic has also led to women and girls facing increased gender-based violence.

In Nepal, between March 2020 and June 2021, there was an increase in cases of gender-based violence. Over 1,750 incidents were reported in the media, of which rape and sexual assault represented 82 per cent. Pandemic lockdowns also led to new vulnerabilities for women who sought out quarantine shelters — in Lamkichuha, Nepal, a woman was allegedly gang-raped at a quarantine facility.

Gender-based violence is more prevalent among women and girls of low caste in Nepal and the pandemic has made it worse. The Samata Foundation reported 90 cases of gender-based violence faced by women and girls of low caste within the first six months of the pandemic.

What’s next?

While COVID-19 recovery efforts are generally focused on preparing for future pandemics and economic recovery, the women, peace and security agenda can also address the needs of some of those most marginalized when it comes to COVID-19 recovery.

The women, peace and security agenda promotes women’s participation in peace and security matters with a focus on helping women facing violent conflict. By incorporating women’s perspectives, issues and concerns in the context of COVID-19 recovery, policies and activities can help address issues that disproportionately impact most women in war-affected countries.

These issues are: precarious gendered labor market, a surge in care work, the rising feminization of poverty and increased gender-based violence.

A girl in a face mask stares out a window
The women, peace and security agenda can help address the needs of some of those most marginalized. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Policies could include efforts to create living-wage jobs for women that come with state benefits, emergency funding for women heads of household (so they can avoid taking out predatory loans) and increasing the number of resources (like shelters and legal services) for women experiencing domestic gender-based violence.

The impacts of COVID-19 must be incorporated into women, peace and security planning in order to achieve the agenda’s aims of improving the lives of women and girls in postwar countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Luna KC is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Research Network-Women Peace Security, McGill University. This project is funded by the Government of Canada Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program.

Crystal Whetstone does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economics

Target Sets Sights on Holiday Season, Has Plan for High Inventory

Target said that it still expects spillover from inventory rightsizing to the tune of $200 million in the third quarter.

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Target said that it still expects spillover from inventory rightsizing to the tune of $200 million in the third quarter.

Target's  (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report strategy is paying off as the company's stock falls on heavy volume following its earnings release. 

Normally, a profit miss as wide as Target's, 39 cents per share vs. expectations of 72 cents per share, would result in a bigger drop than Target's, but the retailer has been prepping the market for this miss all summer. 

The inventory the company built up during the height of the pandemic, as Americans shopped more from home, needs to go, and the only way get rid of the excess product is deep discounts. 

"Back in June, we announced that our team would be undertaking a bold effort to rightsize our inventory position in the categories for which demand patterns have radically changed," CEO Brian Cornell said during the company's earnings call. "While this decision had a meaningful short-term impact on our financial results, we strongly believe it was the best path forward."

Now, looking forward the company sees some overhang for the third quarter, but expects a big holiday season ahead. 

While some fear a recession and what it might do to the economy, Target is convinced that the holiday season will be strong.

Image source: John Smith/VIEWpress.

Target Aims for Holiday Season

While Target is focused on the back-to-school season currently underway, the company expects "spillover" from its inventory issues to be present during the third quarter to the tune of $200 million. 

But the company's own checks suggest that its shoppers are excited about the holiday season. 

"The one thing that seems to be very consistent is a guest and consumer who says they want to celebrate the holiday seasons so we certainly expect that they are going to be celebrating Halloween this year and actively trick or treating and hosting parties with friends and family," Cornell said.

"We know they're looking forward to Thanksgiving and they're going to look forward to celebrating the Christmas holidays and that comes down each and every week as we survey consumers and talk to our guests so that gives us great optimism for our ability to perform during these key holiday seasons"

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Not only does Target expect a strong quarter, but the company also expects favorable comps as fourth quarter headwinds from a year ago aren't present this time around. 

"Guests already have their sights set on upcoming holidays and seasonal moments in Q3 and beyond," Cornell said.

Target's Q2 Collapse

Target said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in July were pegged at 39 cents per share, down 89% from the same period last year and well shy of the Street consensus forecast of 72 cents per share.

Group revenues, Target said, rose 3.5% to $26 billion, essentially matching analysts' estimates of a $26.04 billion tally. Target said same-store sales rose 2.6%, again shy of the Refinitiv forecast of 3.2%, while operating margins fell to 1.2%, below the group's July guidance of a 2% level. 

Earlier this summer, Target cautioned that its bigger-than-expected 35% build-up in overall inventories over the first quarter would trigger price cuts, adding that deeper discounts would be needed to shift the excess goods onto a customer base that was already pulling back on discretionary spending.

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report, Target's larger big box rival, said Tuesday that improving spending trends, as well as actions the group has taken to shift excess inventory, will ease some of the pressures it expects to face in terms of overall profits over the back half of the year.

Walmart said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in July came in at $1.77 per share, down one penny from the same period last year but well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.62 per share.

Group revenues, the company said, were tabbed at $152.9 billion, an 8.4% increase from last year that topped analysts' estimates of $150.81 billion. U.S. same-store sales rose 6.5% from last year, the company said, firmly topping the Refinitiv forecast. 

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Economics

Why Is No One at Nike Working This Week?

And will the move gain broader acceptance among American employers?

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And will the move gain broader acceptance among American employers?

You go into an office, pull at the door and find that it doesn't give and nobody's there. 

It may sound like the start of the common rushing-to-the-office-on-a-Saturday nightmare but, more and more, collective time off is being embraced by employees as part of a push for a better work culture.

While professional social media platform LinkedIn  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report and dating app Bumble  (BMBL) - Get Bumble Inc. Report had already experimented with collective time off for workers, the corporate ripples truly began with Nike  (NKE) - Get Nike Inc. Report.

In August 2021, the activewear giant announced that it was giving the 11,000-plus employees at its Oregon headquarters the week off to "power down" and "destress" from stress brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.

"In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane," Matt Marrazzos, Nike's senior manager of global marketing science, wrote to employees at the time.

Nike Is On Vacation Right Now

The experiment was, not exactly unexpectedly, very well-received — a year later, the company instituted its second annual "Well-Being Week." Both the corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and three Air Manufacturing design labs with over 1,500 employees are closed for a collective paid vacation from Aug. 15 to 19.

"We knew it would be impactful, but I was blown away by the feedback from our teammates [...]," Nike's Chief Human Resources Officer Monique Matheson wrote in a LinkedIn post.

"Because everyone was away at the same time, teammates said they could unplug – really unplug, without worrying about what was happening back at the office or getting anxiety about the emails piling up."

Shutterstock/TheStreet

Of course, the time off only applies to corporate employees. To keep the stores running and online orders fulfilled but not exacerbate the differences between blue and white collar workers, Nike gave its retail and distribution employees a week's worth of paid days off that they can use as they see fit.

Nike has tied the change to its commitment to prioritize mental health. In the last year, it launched everything from a "marathon of mental health" to a podcast that discusses how exercise can be used to manage anxiety and depression.

Rippling Through the Corporate World?

But as corporations are often criticized for turning mental health into positive PR without actually doing much for employees, the collective week off was perhaps the most significant thing the company did for workers' mental health.

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The practice of set office closures has long been common practice in many European countries. In France, not only corporate offices but even restaurants and retail stores empty out over the month of August for what is culturally considered sacred vacation time. 

But as American work culture prioritizes individual choice and "keeping business going" above all else, the practice has been seen as radical by many corporate heads and particularly small businesses that may find it more difficult to have such a prolonged drop in business. 

But in many ways, the conversations mirror some companies' resistance to remote work despite the fact that one-fourth of white-collar jobs in the U.S. are expected to be fully remote by 2023

"This is the kind of perk that makes employees want to stay," industry analyst Shep Hyken wrote in a comment for RetailWire. "And knowing they can’t completely shut the entire company down, I like the way they are compensating the distribution and retail store employees."

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