“More and more animal lovers can't afford their beloved dogs, cats or horses anymore – and are bringing them to shelters with heavy hearts,” the paper said.
Older animals with health problems have been some of those hardest hit by tough economic times – they're most likely to end up behind shelter bars.
“The owners say, ‘I'm unemployed, receive Hartz IV benefits and just can't pay the bills anymore,'” Ruth Gosdeck, who has taken in 20 new animals at the Zollstock shelter since the beginning of the year, told the paper, adding that some pet owners are afraid to say why they're really giving up their pet.
“Many name a breakup or the sudden onset of allergies as the reason,” Gerd Kortschlag from the animal protection centre in Leverkusen, which has taken in more animals than ever as of late, told Express.
At the Cologne animal protection centre the situation has become dire as workers there field five new emergency notices from unemployed people who could no longer afford their horses.
“Many owners feel embarrassed,” Ruth Machelet said.
The centre has room for only 30 horses, and already the limit has been reached. Machelet gives owners tips for cheaper accommodations for the horses, but sometimes it's just not enough.
“Many simply end up at the slaughterhouse,” she said.