Pets Often Victims of Foreclosures

It's nearly impossible to track but shelter employees say it's happening

The tough economy is impacting almost all aspects of life – from dining out, to car sales to housing prices. One question – how is the recession impacting the number of animals surrendered at the local shelters?

In USAToday, an ASPCA spokesperson reported that in some areas so many homeowners are losing their homes that the number of pets turned into shelters is increasing dramatically.

According to Daniel DeSousa with the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, every shelter is seeing an increase in animals. The county shelter doesn’t have hard data but a recurring theme for pets surrendered in the last few weeks has been the economy.

“It’s a difficult thing to track. They don’t tell us ‘I’m giving up my pet because my house is being foreclosed on,’” said DeSousa. “We think it’s happening.”

The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA has some ideas for pet owners to get through tough financial times.  Among their tips:

  • Schedule preventative vet visits
  • Talk with your vet before switching to cheaper food
  • Homemade toys can be just as fun as expensive ones
  • Search for a home that is pet-friendly – they’re out there
  • If you have to surrender a pet, plan ahead.

If you are moving, DeSousa suggests putting extra effort in the search for housing that will accommodate a pet. “This is a member of your family. You wouldn’t drop off your child if you’re being foreclosed,” said DeSousa. “You shouldn’t drop off your pet.”

The Humane Society of the United States saw the downturn in the economy early on and created a grant program last spring. Shelters and rescue groups can apply to money to help handle any increase in surrendered pets. You can donate to that cause on the HSUS website.

If you’re looking to expand your family and you're interested in seeing what animals have been surrendered recently, go to the county shelter website for pictures. 

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