In February, the animal welfare organization estimated 500,000 to one million cats and dogs are at risk of becoming homeless this year by owners abandoning them in foreclosures, but Jill Buckley, the ASPCA's Senior Director of Government Relations & Mediation, said the situation today is not positive for some.
Unemployment has caused foreclosures to surpass expectations and experts now foresee foreclosures exceeding 4 million this year, about six times more than in a normal market. Last year, foreclosure filings were reported on 2,330,483 U.S. properties. Approximately 60 percent of households have pets, according to the ASPCA.
"Some shelters across the nation are overwhelmed with animals brought in by animal control and by owners who have lost their homes," said Ms. Buckley.
Only in California, where new laws took effect this year, are lenders required to notify animal control agencies immediately upon finding an animal in a foreclosed home. They are also required to keep up foreclosed homes after they take possession. Some California cities have passed ordinances requiring lenders to conduct weekly inspections and post contact information so neighbors can report complaints. As a result, the properties are inspected shortly after being vacated and abandoned animals have a chance to be rescued.
In other states, abandoned animals——including livestock as well as cats and dogs──can go for days without food or water in foreclosed properties. Many die of neglect. Not even in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Michigan or Illinois which, along with California, accounted for 62 percent of the nation's total foreclosure activity in August, are lenders required to regularly inspect foreclosed properties and report abandoned animals.
"Everyone has a responsibility if we are to save these animals from starvation and euthanasia, and animals should not be left to fend for themselves. Owners should not abandon their pets but take them with them, place them with family or friends or contact their local animal shelter to place their pets. Shelters are overflowing and people in the community should consider adopting," Ms. Buckley said.
With no relief in sight in the flood of foreclosures gripping the nation and shelters swamped with abandoned pets, especially in the southwest and Florida, the ASPCA is going to be pushing for more states to adopt laws similar to the new California statutes.
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