One of the consequences of the global pandemic, and from it, the skyrocketing unemployment rate, is the question out of work pet owners are facing - can you still afford to have a pet?

In just one month, Michigan's unemployment rate jumped from around 4%, where it's been for a while, to 17.4%, with almost a quarter of the state's workforce out of a job, according to Crain's Detroit Business. That number will likely grow even higher, locally, after institutions like Western Michigan University announced they are implementing extensive staff layoffs.

Many Michiganders considers their pets members of their families, but financial pressure that more residents are facing will strain their ability to keep those pets. The expectation is that there will be an increase, how big is unknown, in the number of abandoned pets.

A pet product maker, Innovet, says they conducted research (with 3,000 participants) that found 16% of Michiganders would struggle to keep their pets if they lost their job.

The major everyday expense with pets, of course, is feeding them. Innovet, in its release, says a positive sign is, 54% of pet owners says they are stocking up and buying pet food in bulk, which may lessen the financial burden temporarily.

This is not taking into consideration any medical emergency that could arise. Those cost can be "astronomical."

But, a small consolation might be that many of those who rely on pets for companionship to combat loneliness, the elderly, are on fixed incomes, and the current spike in unemployment and loss of income shouldn't factor into their ability to maintain a pet.

The guess here is, an increase in the number of abandoned pets is inevitable. But, hopefully, those facing that difficult decision will exhaust every possible solution before that happens.

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