Foreclosures lead to abandoned animals

Another sad aspect of the current real-estate crisis: abandoned pets. From AP:

Pets “are getting dumped all over,” said Traci Jennings, president of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County in northern California. “Farmers are finding dogs dumped on their grazing grounds, while house cats are showing up in wild cat colonies.”…In one such colony in Modesto, two obviously tame cats watched alone from a distance as a group of feral cats devoured a pile of dry food Jennings offered.

“These are obviously abandoned cats,” Jennings said. “They're not afraid of people, and they stay away from the feral cats because they're ostracized by them.”

Stanislaus County, which contains the town of Modesto, is in the Central Valley of California, a region hit hard by foreclosures.

I think about how much effort went into moving Luna to our new home, making sure that she was safe and cared for, and helping her adjust. To just leave a loved pet behind is unthinkable. While a lot of ire about the current real-estate problems is rightly aimed at speculators and financial institutions, the homeowners are responsible for abandoning their pets. And thus they are not getting a lot of sympathy in some corners:

Bloggers are furious with the “foreclosure pet” phenomenon, especially after seeing photos of emaciated animals on the Internet. Some critics say the pet owners have already proved they are irresponsible by buying houses they could not afford or mortgages they did not bother to understand.

“They see a pet as property, no different than a worn sofa tossed into the alley when the springs pop,” says a posting about foreclosure pets on

I also contrast these people abandoning their pets in foreclosures to those who lost their homes, and their pets, in hurricane Katrina. Many of them wanted to evacuate their pets but were prevented from doing so; some stayed behind to protect their animal companions. Those facing foreclosure have advanced notice, and no government force preventing them from seeing that their animals are cared for. And simply did nothing.

Their best shot is for the owners to plan ahead some,” Jennings said. “But they didn't plan when they bought their house. I don't see that happening anytime soon.”

We at CatSynth think pets are family, you don't just abandon them. We don't excuse violence or abuse because of financial hardship (even though some others out there do), so why should we see abandonment differently? Even in the situation where one cannot bring pets, such as when moving in with family or a strict rental, at least make an effort to find them new homes.

As a last resort, at least bring them to a shelter, where they may be adopted. Luna was adopted from the animal shelter in Santa Cruz, perhaps after her previous humans moved but couldn't bring her along. We hope that at least some of the animals caught in this crisis, there is a happy ending.