When Dee Santos took in Max she knew the rescued greyhound would be a commitment. Max provides her with love and companionship and asks little in return. As Santos shopped for his food on Thursday, she couldn't imagine ever having to give him up but she knows many local families are forced to make that choice. The economy is still struggling and some families just can't afford the food and care that pets need.
"General care from day to day isn't so bad but when you don't have a job it is," said Santos.
The Humane Association of Central New York and other shelters have seen a massive increase in the number of dogs and cats being dropped off in recent years. Pet ownership in the U.S. has dropped by 2.4% over the past five years. That means families have 2 million fewer dogs and more than 7.6 million fewer cats. Many of those animals are now being cared for by shelters trying to make ends meet.
"The shelters are struggling. We're struggling with so much more medical care and spay and neuter and food and litter," said Bethanne Kistner from the Humane Association.
Ruth Sturgis sees about 90 families a month at the Hardeko Helping Paws Food Pantry she runs at her Dog Daze shop in North Syracuse. She's trying to help families - and their pets - get through tough time.
"Our goal is to keep the animals in the home so they don't become a number. So they don't feel like they did something wrong," said Sturgis.
The hope of many shelters and food pantries is that the economy will improve and more families can give shelter pets a permanent home.