Housing Foreclosures Hit Pets HardPublished December 15, 2008
The stories are heart wrenching. Dogs left tied to fences of abandoned houses; cats left roaming empty rooms or let out onto busy streets; and shelters overflowing with growing numbers of beloved family pets. As the nation's sub-prime mortgage rate crisis broadens, leading to more foreclosures, this meltdown is not only affecting homeowners, it is also affecting their pets. Faced with losing their homes, the last thing on the minds of these people is what will happen to their pets when forced to make new living arrangements. They have likely spent the previous months tirelessly struggling to hang on to their homes. When the final eviction notice is delivered, many reluctantly put up their pets for adoption, bring them to shelters, or worse yet, abandon them. Some abandoned pets are not found until they are on the brink of starvation. Rental apartments often do not allow pets, and those that do sometimes impose a surcharge, an extra bill that can be insurmountable for financially strapped families. As a result, shelters are becoming very crowded. Homeowners who abandoned their pets may not have known about options that could have alleviated the worry of where to place their pets, and could even have saved the lives of many other pets. Some adoption services are cropping up to alleviate the burdens placed on shelters. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) now offers grants to animal shelters, groups that rescue or adopt animals, and to agencies that implement programs to help families care for their pets. These organizations partner with food banks to raise money for pet food and supplies. They also collaborate with veterinarians who donate vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries, and other veterinary care. To avoid having to abandon their pets, families facing foreclosure can take steps to avoid unpleasant scenarios: Plan early. If an economic crisis is looming, try to act quickly to secure a place for pets. Ask friends or relatives to take in your pet until the financial situation improves. Begin looking for pet-friendly apartments as soon as the foreclosure seems eminent. The HSUS provides an online resource for people looking for pet-friendly apartments. Cut the cost of pet ownership by buying less expensive food and toys. Reduce the potential for costly vet bills by keeping pets on a leash. Animals that roam freely are more prone to accidents that can result in high veterinary bills. Research pet health insurance to cushion your wallet from expensive veterinary bills.
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