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Higher housing costs force more pet owners to surrender their dogs

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Lisa Spillman can’t imagine life without her dog, an 8-year-old chihuahua mix named Rosebud. But she says her household expenses were getting tough to handle.

“Everything – rent, groceries, dog food… it’s all going really high,” Spillman, 52, told CNBC.

And she’s not alone.

According to a new survey conducted by pet care site Rover, the majority of pet parents say they are spending more on their animals than they were six months ago. More than 90% of pet parents in the U.S. say they have noticed an increase in pet-related costs due to inflation, up from 71% who said the same in January, according to the survey.

Rover also found that to adjust for increasing prices, pet parents are trading down on things like food, treats and accessories for their dogs. 

In some cases, owners have been forced to say goodbye to their furry best friends.

Spillman, who lives in Tucson, was forced to move after rent skyrocketed nearly 40%. Her only option was a place that wouldn’t take dogs.

“Losing my baby, who loves me so much, hurt very much,” Spillman said.

Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson is hearing more often from pet owners that they’ve been forced to surrender their animals because of housing concerns, such as eviction or lack of affordable housing, according to shelter Director Monica Dangler. A year ago, housing-related surrenders made up 6% of the shelter’s surrenders — now, they make up 18%.

Dogs waiting to be adopted inside Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona.

CNBC

“It’s staggering. And it’s, you know, sad that people are having to surrender due to things outside of their control due to inflation and the rising market costs for housing,” Dangler said.

While the number of animals entering shelters has decreased more than 14% since before the pandemic, shelters across the U.S. are still overwhelmed with animals, according to Shelter Animals Count, which tracks animal sheltering across the country. So far this year, 6% more animals have entered shelters than have left, according to the organization.   

“Many shelters report in recent months that the reasons people are needing to give up their animals has changed,” the organization’s Executive Director, Stephanie Filer, told CNBC. “They’re now more commonly seeing issues related to housing or finances as why families – often tearfully – are forced to say goodbye to their family’s pet.”

Dog owner Lisa Spillman, 52, hugs her 8-year-old dog, Rosebud.

CNBC

In Kansas City, Missouri, KC Pet Project expects to take in a historic number of pets this year – 15,000 – compared with roughly 10,000 on average in recent years, according to Chief Communications Officer Tori Fugate.

“We need the community to help us get through this – through adoptions, fostering and just helping us save lives,” Fugate said. “I highly encourage you to reach out and get involved with your local shelter.”

So far in 2022, 40% of the dogs that have come into the shelter have been relinquished by their owners as a result of housing or financial constraints.

“[Families] don’t want to give up their pets, but they are coming to us as a last resort because they have no other options,” Fugate said.

Exterior of KC Pet Project in Kansas City, Missouri

CNBC

A few months ago, Veronica Gurrola had to say goodbye her two miniature schnauzers, Oreo and Cookie.

“It came to where I had to choose, you know, my kids, you know, over our pets,” Gurrola told CNBC. “Having a mortgage to pay… all of that stuff… it adds up. And it seems like everything is going up – except for, you know, pay.”

One shelter in New York City, Animal Care Centers of NYC, reported 4,567 animals were surrendered so far this year – up 22% from the same time last year.

“Due to the economy, a lot of people are needing to move to different places,” shelter Director of Marketing and Communications Katy Hansen said. “They’ve lost their job or they can no longer afford the 30% rent increase – that is one of the biggest reasons that people are having to surrender their animal.”

For some, the separation is temporary. Both Spillman and Gurrola were able to get their dogs back. 

Their local shelters have foster care programs that place dogs on a short-term basis while owners get back on their feet.

“I’m really grateful for that,” Spillman said, who now lives in a pet-friendly home in Tucson with a backyard for Rosebud. “She’s very active. She missed us a lot – as much as I missed her.”



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Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather crypto scam lawsuit dismissed

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A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit by investors against the founders of the cryptocurrency EthereumMax, as well as celebrity endorsers including Kim Kardashian and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. over their promotion of the cryptocurrency on social media.

Investors who bought EMAX tokens alleged they had suffered losses after taking the word of the celebrity influencers about the value of the crypto. The suit claims the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the value of the EMAX tokens.

Judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote that he recognized that the lawsuit’s claims raised legitimate worries about “celebrities’ ability to readily persuade millions of undiscerning followers to buy snake oil with unprecedented ease and reach.”

“But, while the law certainly places limits on those advertisers, it also expects investors to act reasonably before basing their bets on the zeitgeist of the moment,” wrote Fitzgerald, of the Central District of California.

The judge found that the plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficiently backed, especially “given the heightened pleading standards” for fraud claims, according to his ruling in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In addition to Kardashian, Mayweather and former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, the defendants in the case included Steve Gentile and Giovanni Perone, the co-founders of EthereumMax, and Justin French, a consultant and developer for the cryptocurrency, court documents state.

Fitzgerald in his ruling said he would allow lawyers for the plaintiffs to refile their suit after amending some of their claims under a number of the statutes cited in the original complaint, which included the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.

“We’re pleased with the court’s well-reasoned decision on the case,” Michael Rhodes, a lawyer for Kardashian, told CNBC.

The dismissal came weeks after investors in fallen crypto exchange FTX filed a class-action lawsuit against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and celebrity advertisers for the company, among them NFL superstar Tom Brady, for allegedly overstating the value of the crypto tokens in promotional messaging.

And the ruling came two months after Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million, and not to promote cryptocurrency for three years, to settle claims by the SEC for her failure to disclose a $250,000 payment touting EthereumMax on her Instagram account.

Fitzgerald in his ruling Wednesday said the EthereumMax lawsuit reflects a broader conflict surrounding celebrity and influencer promotional schemes.

“This action demonstrates that just about anyone with the technical skills and/or connections can mint a new currency and create their own digital market overnight,” Fitzgerald wrote in his dismissal.

Investors sued EthereumMax and its celebrity advertisers in January after a slew of influencers started snagging sponsorships to promote cryptocurrencies to their millions of social media followers.

Kardashian’s Instagram post in June 2021 had written, “Are you guys into crypto??? This is not financial advice but sharing what my friends told me about the Ethereum Max token.”

Her post included “#ad” at the bottom, indicating she had been sponsored. But it did not disclose her $250,000 payment from EthereumMax.

Mayweather promoted EMAX at a boxing match and a large Miami bitcoin conference in June 2021.

But by January, the cryptocurrency had lost 97% of its value.

Fitzgerald at a hearing last month indicated he was inclined to dismiss the case.

Bloomberg News, in an article about that hearing, said that an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit asked the judge to allow him to revise the suit’s racketeering claims to show how the statements by the celebrity defendants harmed the investors.

“If plaintiffs had known the true facts related to the promoters’ financial interest in the tokens, and that they were being paid to shill these tokens, they wouldn’t have paid as much for the tokens as they did,” the attorney, John Jasnoch, told Fitzgerald, according to a transcript cited by Bloomberg.



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Cathie Wood says the Fed is making a serious mistake as bond market flashes worst signal since 1980s

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How the U.S. became a global corn superpower

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The United States has just about 90 million planted acres of corn, and there’s a reason people refer to the crop as yellow gold.

In 2021, U.S. corn was worth over $86 billion, according to calculations from FarmDoc and the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, the U.S. is largest consumer, producer and exporter of corn in the world.

“We’re really good at [corn production],” Seth Meyer, chief economist at the USDA, told CNBC. “And that’s why you see big acres, big demand, export competitiveness.”

It’s not just what we eat.

“We turbocharged the value of corn through the application of science,” Scott Irwin, agricultural economist and professor at the University of Illinois, told CNBC.

Corn is in what we buy, including medications and textiles, and corn is turned into ethanol, which helps to fuel cars across the nation.

The rest of the world relies on U.S. corn, too. 

At $2.2 billion in 2019, corn is the most heavily subsidized of all crops in the country.

“A lot of these subsidies … do get embedded into the cost of farmland and they essentially bid up the price of farmland marginally,” Joseph Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and former USDA chief economist, told CNBC. “So the benefits accrue largely to those who own land.”

The federal crop insurance program’s net spending is forecast to increase to nearly $40 billion from 2021 through 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, farmland values have reached all-time record highs.

“Do we get the corn acres because we’ve got the support, or do we have the support because we have the corn acres?” Meyer said, posing the chicken-and-egg question about the nation’s grain superpower.

Watch the video above to learn more about how corn fuels the U.S. economy from its people to its vehicles, the power of the corn belt states, the role of subsidies and where government policy for the industry may go from here.



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