CNN Unveils the Sad Puppy Indicator

     We've seen the media promote an R.V. indicator, a sweater indicator, a McDonald’s indicator and even a Starbucks indicator – all illustrations purporting to show an economy in peril. But CNN topped them all March 4 with the sad puppy indicator.

     “In Dayton, Ohio, it has come to this. Times are so tough for some people that even the family pet is a luxury they can no longer afford,” reporter Susan Roesgen said on CNN “Newsroom.” “A busy animal shelter is just the latest sign of an economy in trouble.”

     Rising unemployment in Ohio is leading to increased foreclosures, according to Roesgen. “And often when homeowners are forced to leave they don’t take their pets with them.”

     Roesgen didn’t report any figures showing an increase in families getting rid of pets, but said the National Humane Society “warns of pet abandonment growing, not just here, but across the country.”

     Family pets certainly hold a special place in owners’ hearts, but Roesgen really turned on the sappiness when, over video of a dejected looking puppy in a shelter cage, she said, “In the end, this could be the face that haunts a voter in Dayton and many others as well.”

     Giving up a pet due to a rough financial situation might be a heart-wrenching decision to make, but it is probably a wise one. Even Mark Kumpf, of the Dayton Animal Shelter, told Roesgen that. “He could cover the utilities, couldn’t cover the bills,” Kumpf said of a man who’d returned a pet recently. “And he made the right decision for the pet.”

     It’s also the right decision for the family. Pets can be expensive due to the cost of food, normal care and medical emergencies. Freeing up that cash could help those struggling financially.

     The National Humane Society doesn’t have statistics, according to founder Carol Childs. The Humane Society of the United States, on the other hand, has seen an increase in pet abandonment of as much as 30 percent in states where foreclosures rates are high, according to spokeswoman Jordan Crump.

      But do spikes in pet abandonment really indicate a weak economy, or was this report another example of heart-string-tugging, exaggerated negative reporting about the economy?