An Anchor in Hard Times

Escrito por HSUS. Publicado en Relación.

Pets soothe stressed companions suffering from financial difficulties

Excerpted from the July-August issue of All Animals magazine

John Hennion and his mastiff Nando are getting through hard times by sticking together. © Linda Hwang

by Arna Cohen

John Henion is coping from losing his job as a television producer and editor by spending more time with his mastiff mix Nando. “My quality of life has gone down, but his has gone way up,” says the 32-year-old Oakland, Calif., resident, laughing. "He gets a lot more of my time and attention."

On one of their walks, Henion and Nando met a couple who had to give up their dog because they’d lost their house. “I felt so bad for them. I never considered losing Nando. He’s half the reason I’ve been able to keep my sense of humor,” says Henion, who with a similarly jobless friend writes an “Unemploymentality” blog offering tongue-in-cheek musings on their status.

When facing financial setbacks, many pet owners realize they can sacrifice plenty if it means keeping their pets. They might clip coupons, do without new clothes, and forgo restaurant meals, travel, and cable TV.

“It’s funny what you don’t miss when you don’t have it,” says Henion.

A True Friend in Need

The devotion is understandable, given the benefits of animal companionship. Many studies show that simply stroking a pet lowers blood pressure, eases depression, and speeds healing.

Pets also boost our self-esteem, says Sue-Ellen Brown, a clinical psychologist at the Tuskegee University Center for the Study of Human-Animal Interdependent Relationships.

“For people who have lost their jobs and then have to face losing their animals because of the inability to care for them financially, [that is] a double whammy,” says Brown. “Their stress levels will be much more likely to predispose them to a physical illness as well as [to] mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.”

Ways to Cut Costs, Not Quality

Ease the drain on your wallet without compromising care. Here are some tips to help you and your pets through hard times:

  • Check online for deals on food and medicine. Verify a site’s reputation before making a purchase, and if you have any doubts, get the product from your veterinarian.
  • Ask your veterinarian if it’s possible to prescribe a medication used for humans; a generic version at the pharmacy could be cheaper.
  • If your pet has ongoing medical needs, find out whether you can provide some treatments at home; the savings can be substantial.
  • Check with your local veterinary schools and animal organizations to see if they offer low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and treatment. Some will give special deals for multiple-pet households, senior citizens, or older pets.
  • Consider investing in pet insurance. Pet insurance company Petplan offers a 5-percent discount to HSUS members and allows policyholders to create plans most appropriate to their needs and budgets. To research companies, visit
  • Don’t skimp on routine vet care. Small problems that go untreated can spiral into larger issues that require expensive treatment. Keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations and medications such as heartworm preventative and flea control.
  • Buy the best food you can afford, and keep your pet fit with plenty of exercise.
  • Keep cats indoors to prevent injury and disease. Both could lead to high veterinary costs down the road.


    FOR MORE money-saving pet care tips, visit

    Arna Cohen is a writer for All Animals magazine, the bimonthly membership magazine of The Humane Society of the United States.

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