Foreclosure Pets… Innocent Victims of the Housing Market

Many people out there are experiencing financial troubles as the mortgage foreclosure crisis continues to expand across the nation.  Unfortunately, as their owners find themselves facing eviction, many pets become the forgotten, and truly innocent, victims as well.  It can be a heartbreaking and frustrating situation for many people.

Foreclosure websites have stated that more than 8 million adjustable rate mortgages were given between 2004 and 2006.   It is expected that almost 1.1 million of these will be foreclosed before the problem goes away.  Given the current rate of pet ownership to be about 60% of the population, it is very easy to calculate the thousands of dogs, cats and other pets that could potentially face abandonment.

In Franklin County, Ohio, foreclosures this year are up more than 4 times last year’s rate.   Their local animal shelter states that about 20% of owners surrendering pets are doing so due to eviction proceedings.  A humane society near San Diego California reports receiving 20-30 calls per day from owners looking to relinquish the family pet.

But others leave their pets behind on false hopes that someone will come along to care for them.   In Cincinnati, Ohio, more than 50 cats were found in a house after the owner’s eviction.  Cases of starving, dehydrated and occasional dead pets have become common sights for real estate agents and law enforcement officers.   The unfortunate truth is that many of these pets are left and months can pass before someone comes to check on the property.   What’s worse?  In most cities, pets are considered to be personal property and can’t be removed until after a foreclosure sale.

Many people might wonder how anyone could leave a pet behind during these trying times.   But for thousands of people, their pets, regardless of their status, become just another weight, hastening their spiral downward.  It is all too easy to just walk out the door, leave everything and hope for a new beginning somewhere else.

As difficult as times may seem, preparation can help to insure that your pets don’t suffer similar fates.   If you are facing foreclosure and cannot care for your pets, contact your local shelter or humane society.   In some instances, rescue organizations may be available although their foster home space is very limited.  If you must surrender your pet, do so before the eviction time comes.   Gather any pertinent medical information from your veterinarian and let the shelter staff know about any behavior issues unique to your pet.   These steps could spell the difference between a new home for your pet or potential euthanasia.