12/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Going the Wrong Way

Whenever we go through hard economic times, more pets are abandoned. People lose their homes and can't take their pets with them. People lose their jobs and cannot afford to feed them. Or people feel they just have to cut back, and deem their pets expendable. It's sad... but it's true.

This puts an extra burden on overcrowded, underfunded animal shelters. Of course, hard times also put an extra burden on community governments and budgets. We understand that. But while communities and families can find ways to manage, abandoned pets are defenseless. So what should a responsible community do? Not what we hear the wealthy Town of East Hampton New York is about to do -- cut a $7,500 grant for local shelter from its 2009 budget.

As I understand it, the money for the shelter is the first line item to be cut -- probably based on the politicians' theory that the animals can't vote. But pet lovers can and do vote, and I do hope the voters of East Hampton will make their voices heard. Meanwhile, we need to put our thinking caps on and become more creative and productive with the resources we have. We need to get more vets to donate spay/neuter services, more pet food companies to donate food, more citizens to donate their time. Cutting help to shelters at the very time they need more help is going the wrong way, but we cannot allow East Hampton or any other government take it out on the animals. We have to step up.