Foreclosed Pets

Shelters are overflowing with homeless animals from owners who have lost their homes.

With families hurting from the mortgage crisis, home foreclosures and tough economic times, shelters are reporting a surge in homeless animals–including beloved family pets. Realtors and rescue groups say they have even found terrified animals, chained without food or water, on foreclosed properties.

This year, the crisis has become so severe that The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) this year launched a Foreclosure Fund to help shelters cope with the huge influx of animals abandoned as a result of the housing crisis. By late summer 19 shelters had received grants ranging from $500 to $2,000, the HSUS announced.

The Sacramento SPCA is using its grant to reduce adoption fees; it's also printing information kits for homeowners who have been forced to move. The kits offer tips on how to find pet-friendly housing or to make their pets more adoptable. "All of our foster cares are full," says Rick Johnson, the Sacramento SPCA's executive director. "The number of animals given up for moving reasons has basically doubled."

Organizations such as No Paws Left Behind are also working to educate pet owners about responsible alternatives should financial hardship strike. "Cats, dogs and birds are not furniture," says Cheryl Lang, the Houston mortgage-services executive who founded the group. "We've domesticated these animals, and we have an obligation to make sure they're safe."

How can you help? The Humane Society recommends these actions.

Adopt homeless animals. You'll save a life and provide a helping hand to the shelters caring for animals in need.

Support your local shelter. Volunteer, donate or provide supplies. Foreclosure-related abandonment of pets is putting an unprecedented strain on shelters.

Help find a good home for a pet. People facing the distress of eviction may be too distraught to think clearly about their pet's well-being. If someone you know is in this situation, help that individual place his or her pet in a loving home.

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