'Foreclosure pets' filling Valley shelters
Posted 08 July 2008 - 09:11 AM
People losing homes often give up animals
Jul. 7, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
As the number of home foreclosures escalates, many distressed homeowners are left with one more difficult task - giving up their pets.
People often find themselves in smaller rental homes or apartments after losing their home, and many of those rentals do not allow pets.
Many owners take their animals to shelters, hoping their pets will find new homes. Others simply move without their pets, leaving them behind in the backyard or abandoning them on the side of the road.
"Foreclosure pets," as they've come to be known, have dramatically increased the number of animals in shelters across the Valley. The Arizona Humane Society has received more than 1,000 abandonment calls this year, nearly double the number at this time last year.
Other Valley shelters and rescues have reported significant increases because of foreclosures, as well.
"We have people come in crying," said Aprille Hollis, a spokeswoman with Maricopa County Animal Care & Control, a county-run agency. "They're heartbroken. They don't want to give up their animal, but when you're struggling to feed your family, you have to make a choice."
Foreclosures in metropolitan Phoenix continued to rise in May, with 3,402 foreclosures filed, up more than 14 percent from April, according to the Information Market.
Shelters across the nation also are seeing an increase, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which has no affiliation with the Arizona Humane Society.
The problem is most acute where foreclosures are common and the general economy is struggling. States such as Arizona, California and Florida are being inundated with foreclosed homes, and subsequently, their animal shelters are being flooded with pets.
Many shelters are also seeing more requests for help with medical and food costs for pets, and County Animal Control has noticed an increase in strays.
The economic conditions have had such an effect on shelters that the Humane Society of the United States started a foreclosure fund specifically to help shelters cope with all the displaced animals. The grants range from $500 to $2,000.
Already crowded shelters are bracing for more pets: Litter season runs from about May through July, which means that shelters take in double, or even triple, the amount of puppies and kittens than during the rest of the year.
"Normally I get maybe 10 e-mails a week," said Dee Alschuler, intake coordinator with Paw Placement. "Now, I'm seeing close to 20 to 30 e-mails a week."
Paw Placement, based in Scottsdale, is a no-kill organization that works to prevent the euthanasia of animals. Alschuler works with pet foster homes and other shelters to rescue animals.
"Some days I just don't even want to answer the phone because I know it's just going to be another intake that I'll have to turn down," Alschuler said.
County Animal Control is taking in about 200 animals every day, a result of the increase in abandonment coupled with litter season.
During the off-season for litters, it takes in anywhere from 800 to 1,000 in an average month, Hollis said.
"We've got a very small amount of breathing room at the moment," Hollis said.
County Animal Control has euthanized more than 10,000 animals since January.
Animals who do not arrive in perfect health are classified as either "treatable" or "unhealthy and untreatable." Treatable animals could live satisfactory lives with medical or behavioral treatment. Unhealthy and untreatable animals are those that are unlikely to become healthy, even with treatment, and are usually put down.
Although it has not euthanized any healthy animals in two years, County Animal Control puts down thousands of animals each year that are considered treatable.
Last year, County Animal Control put down more than 30,000 animals.
"It's a horrible, horrible number," Hollis said of the animals that had faced euthanasia. "And it's not going to get better until the community changes."
Rescuers agree that spaying and neutering is an important responsibility for pet owners because it decreases accidental litters and backyard breeding, which add to the space issues that shelters are already facing.
"If the community would become more responsible with spaying and neutering or taking care of their animals, we wouldn't have to put animals down," Hollis said.
For those fearing the loss of a pet, rescuers suggest thinking of alternative options before turning to a shelter. This includes asking family and friends for help.
Kimberly Cole, a real-estate agent with Signature Realty Group in Tempe, helps people find rentals that will allow them to keep their pets when they are forced to downsize.
"There are options out there," Cole said. "There are rentals out there that will let you keep your dogs. You just have to be responsible."
Cole has rescued animals left behind after foreclosures. Two of her dogs are victims of abandonment.
One of Cole's foreclosure rescues was tossed out of a car near the Santan Mountains. The dog's original owners had lost their home and could no longer keep her.
"The dog was running after the car," Cole said. "It happens every day. It's so sad."
Posted 03 August 2009 - 07:36 PM
:i.muroko: Neko (painted conure) :Tafrgrey: Mosley (CAG) :greencheek: Nathan (green cheek conure)
Posted 04 August 2009 - 04:48 AM
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users