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Independent Thoughts: Pets pay price as finances get tight

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Adoptable Animal-Kevin

With high inventory and lower demand, Baypath Humane Society is getting creative in its efforts to adopt out dogs like Kevin.

The high cost of living across the nation — including Hopkinton, where home prices are soaring — is making things challenging for animal rescue organizations.

During the COVID pandemic, Baypath Humane Society struggled to keep up with the demand for pets. Now, the shelter on Legacy Farms Road North is seeing a high number of owner-surrenders and a low number of adopters.

“I’ve never seen it this bad in my 13 years with Baypath,” Outreach Committee member Kathy Lundgren said. “Two years ago, our kennels were empty, and we couldn’t get dogs fast enough. Now, this year alone, we’ve had 50% more owner-surrenders than last year.

“It seems like the problem is primarily with higher housing costs and inflation. A lot of people aren’t able to afford animals. We just had two families surrender their dogs because they decided to live in their cars while they sought lower-cost housing, and they realized they couldn’t care for their pets in that situation.”

Lundgren said that while Baypath continues to receive dogs from rescue facilities in the South, local owner-surrenders have jumped from about one per month to 3-5 per week. Baypath adopts out around 20 pets per week, Lundgren said, about a third lower than its recent average.

“We can only take so many,” she said, noting that Baypath is not an open-admission shelter, meaning it has to set a cap. “We do have to turn some away.”

Compounding the problem, Baypath is seeing more strays and desperate owner-surrenders, including one who recently left a cat in a carrier outside the facility. Despite this, Baypath continues to welcome older and sick pets, which can take longer to re-home.

Baypath (baypathhumane.org) has been running a promotion in August offering to waive the adoption fee for dogs weighing 50 pounds or more, as bigger dogs are among the more challenging to adopt out.

“A lot of apartments have a size restriction,” Lundgren explained. “And another problem that seems to be cropping up now is more breed restrictions. Some facilities won’t allow pit bulls, huskies, even greyhounds. The list has become so long that apartment owners email it to us [when looking to adopt]. Some are even asking for DNA testing.”

Anyone looking to help could consider becoming a foster, meaning they would take a pet temporarily while a permanent home is sought for the animal.

“People who can foster are a huge help for us, because it gets them out of the shelter and makes room for another dog,” she said.

Baypath helps by covering the costs for leashes, collars, bowls and other items. The organization also is working to post tips on its website for pet owners seeking low-cost medical care and spay/neuter services. And Baypath is trying to work with local trainers to arrange discount pricing for obedience training.

“Up here in the Northeast, we really haven’t seen anything like this before,” Lundgren said. “Hopefully, it gets better soon.”

Weston Nurseries BBQ fundraiser, PolyArts both Sept. 9

Two of the highlights of the fall season are Weston Nurseries’ annual Blooms, Brews & BBQs fundraiser and the Hopkinton PolyArts Festival.

Both events are scheduled this year for Saturday, Sept. 9.

Blooms, Brews & BBQs runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Weston Nurseries (93 East Main Street).

The event, which raises money for the Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is popular among foodies and music fans. Among the vendors on hand will be Hogwash BBQ Company, Greatest BBQ of New England, Uhlman’s Ice Cream and Hopkinton favorite Snappy Dogs. There also will be vegetarian options. Beer and wine will be supplied by Marty’s Fine Wines and Start Line Brewing, both based in Hopkinton, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available as well.

Music will be provided by The Grateful Teds from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Violingrrl from 1:30-2:30 p.m., Hot Acoustics (fronted by Hopkinton’s Steve Spector) from 3-4 p.m. and Last Call Radio from 5-6:30 p.m.

There also will be raffles, with prizes including Weston Nurseries gift cards and Red Sox tickets.

For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, visit westonnurseries.com.

PolyArts, the traditional arts and crafts event held at the Town Common, runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. It’s organized by the Hopkinton Cultural Council, and proceeds help fund scholarships for Hopkinton graduates studying the arts.

“PolyArts began in 1974 as a demonstration of various arts and crafts to showcase the talents of the local community,” reads a summary at the event website (cozzens.net/polyarts). “Since then, it has grown into a day-long event with many professional craftspeople, performing artists and community groups participating throughout the day. PolyArts is free to attend and is a family-friendly day with something for everyone, be it food, music, crafts or other entertainment.”

Looking ahead, the popular Hopkinton Family Day is set for Saturday, Sept. 23, at the field behind Hopkinton Middle School. There will be free games and activities, entertainment and food trucks from 2-6 p.m., followed by a fireworks display in the evening. Visit friendsofhopkinton.org for more information.

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