Housing Crisis Affecting Pets, Too

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Banks Receive Bailouts- Pets Get Booted Out

By Sheila Appleby Williams

According to the current statistics, almost eight million abandoned pets are in the custody of pet shelters across the nation, with a majority of these facilities suffering from lack of staff, overcrowding and minimal budgets.

As the various regions in the U.S. continue to be influenced by the crisis in the housing market, the number of deserted pets keeps rising steadily.

“People’s top reasons for leaving their pets at a shelter are having to move and being unable to care for the animal. The abandoned animal rate is increasing, especially in house foreclosures. It’s a tough time for veterinarians and their staff, mentally and emotionally, to deal with medically unnecessary euthanasia” said a Los Angeles Animal Shelter supervisor.

Many displaced homeowners would like to keep their pets but often relocate to apartments that have no-animal policies and lack the funds necessary for their pet’s food in addition to healthcare. Old pets require medical attention and with the financial problems, their owners can no longer prioritize their needs.

Sadly, many homeowners do not realize that they have to give up their pets until too late and the pets are being left behind to fend for themselves and in many cases this results in starvation and death.

The American Humane Society issued a recent statement urging pet owners to take their animals with them when they move – to avoid the tragedy reported last March in Huron Valley, Michigan.

In that case, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Michigan had to pull more than 30 cats, several dogs and other assorted wildlife out of a foreclosed Ypsilanti Township home owned by Texas-based CitiMortgage.  The bank had failed to secure the property, which was described as  “packed with debris, the floor covered in animal feces and saturated with urine and the stench noticeable outside the home.”

The housing collapse has been “horrible” for animals, said Jolene Hoffman, shelter director with the Humane Society of Ventura County, California.

When neighbors of foreclosed homeowners called, Hoffman said, the Humane Society’s hands were tied because staff can’t enter the houses without permission. So animal control officers had to come instead.

“It’s usually the animals that go first, before the furniture,” says Hoffman.

Being euthanized is often the only option left for the pets that have been abandoned due to foreclosure and unable to find accommodation in shelters or a family to adopt them.

“The worst thing to do is nothing at all,” advises The Humane Society of the United States website: “Local shelters cannot find new homes for all of these surrendered animals,” said Betsy McFarland, senior director of companion animals for The HSUS. “Before surrendering an animal, pet owners should exhaust all possible means for cutting costs and all possible options for pet care assistance. Don’t keep it quiet. Call friends and relatives. Call your local shelter. Look for resources. Be proactive.”

Homeless Pets Resources:

American Humane has created a grant program for public and private shelters to help offset the cost of boarding animals at other locations and provide veterinary services, foster care services, and behavior training for animals that are frightened or stressed from being displaced. American Humane staff is also available to answer questions. www.americanhumane.org

No Paws Left Behind has established a grant program to help people remain with their pets. Grants help recipients pay for pet deposits at apartments, boarding costs, and veterinary care.  nopawsleftbehind.org

Best Friends Animal Society provides short-term (typically 3-6 months) foster care for pets whose families are displaced from their homes due to foreclosure. nmhpnetwork.bestfriends.org

For more details on the plight of displaced pets, visit www.atravelingpug.com

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