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Foreclosure pets: crisis across America

Due to the ever-increasing foreclosure crisis, more and more pets are left behind.
Due to the ever-increasing foreclosure crisis, more and more pets are left behind.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Pets are deeply affected as a consequence of the escalating foreclosure crisis. It is evident that the economy has not only negatively impacted the human population, but the lives of animals as well.

Abandoned pets are found hiding in dark empty rooms, struggling to survive off scraps of leftover garbage or pieces from the hardwood floor they sleep on. They are discovered living in vomit, suffering from severe dehydration and hunger. Some are emaciated and weak, and even near death or already deceased.

Unfortunately, leaving pets behind due to mortgage foreclosures is not an uncommon occurrence in today’s society. The declining economy of the U.S. has seriously altered the lives of pets. The cost of caring for an animal, or multiple animals, can place the owner in a financial predicament. Shelter overcrowding, increased rates of euthanasia and the excessive surplus of animals needing homes are created as a result of this problematic financial market. Deeply affected areas throughout the country, such as Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Sacramento, are in the middle of an intense foreclosure crisis, resulting in the demise of many animals.

The Sacramento, California region ranks nationally in the top six metropolitan areas in foreclosures. Over the past nine months or more, the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has seen a substantial increase in the number of dogs and cats being surrendered to the shelter due to the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

“The Sacramento SPCA is prepared to do whatever we can to not only find permanent homes for these displaced animals, but also to help people searching for innovative, pet-friendly solutions to their unfortunate housing situations,” said Leslie Kirrene, director of public relations, SSPCA. “The housing crisis in the Sacramento area is tragic and far-reaching, and we're doing what we can to create as many happy endings as possible.”

To help preserve the lives of animals affected by foreclosure, there are various actions people can take. Calling or visiting local shelters to check on the status of abandoned animals, donating to a fund for the cause, or helping any pets that are left behind in deserted houses are just a few approaches that can be done individually to help change the fate of these animals.

In an effort to find new homes for these animals, the Sacramento SPCA has launched a program called "Re-Homing Rebates,” which reduces adoption fees by 50 percent on animals that were surrendered due to foreclosure. In addition, the SSPCA is providing an informational packet to the public that includes tips to help people make their pets more desirable to potential adopters, as well as assist in finding pet-friendly rental housing.

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) also has developed a program to help ease the consequences of the foreclosure crisis. Philadelphia pet owners, who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, can surrender their pets to the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA) for free as part of the organization’s Good Home Guarantee expanded adoption program.

The Good Home Guarantee program allows pet owners to surrender their adoptable animals to PSPCA for a small fee. The money covers a portion of the costs that incur while the animals are waiting to be adopted.

“In January, we launched a foreclosure aspect of that program and will waive the Good Home Guarantee fee for local pet owners who show proof that their homes have been foreclosed,’ said Heather Redfern, director of Outreach Programs of the Pennsylvania SPCA.

The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) also urges pet owners facing foreclosure to always consider surrendering their animals to a shelter rather than abandoning them.

“Please find suitable ways to re-home your pets,” said Nancy Gunnigle, communication manager for the MHS. “If you can’t afford to care for your pet any longer, please contact a reputable shelter. They will provide food, water, shelter, and care for the animals.

“Abandoning your pets is never the right choice. This could lead to suffering, and in worst cases, death.”

The issues surrounding foreclosure pets are prevalent and widespread in the U.S. Programs developed by animal shelters are vital to transforming the damaging effects that our weakened nation has left on the lives of animals throughout the country.

Animal Care & Control of New York City (AC&C) is the largest pet organization in the North East, with an estimated number of 44,000 animals rescued each year. They have created a Safety Net Program that offers guidance, services, and solutions to people who are having problems keeping their animal companions. The goal of the program is to help keep animals with their family by offering free and low cost services such as; temporary pet boarding and foster homes during crisis, lower cost vet care for those on restricted incomes, and general guidance and support for pet owners.

“We have seen a lot of cases where dogs have had to be surrendered, as a result of or related to the financial crisis, and that is why the Safety Net program is such a good resource for people right now,” said Evin Rosenberg, spokesperson for the AC&C.

Pets need the love and care of humans to survive during these tough economic times. By developing and promoting the proper tools, education, and programs, the damaged lives of abandoned animals can be mended or even prevented. With collaborative efforts and a true dedication to end the suffering that many foreclosure pets face, the future of these animals will look a little brighter each day.

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Silent victims: Abandoned Foreclosure Pets

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