Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Home foreclosures leave animals in the cold

People aren't walking away only from their homes in this collapsed housing market.

Shelter workers at the Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas report that citizens are leaving their pets behind, too. Animal care officers are finding more animals than ever before abandoned in backyards, apartments and houses.

"I've never seen it this bad," said Sheri Peek, shelter supervisor for the City of Moreno Valley's animal services. The number of surrendered and abandoned animals taken in by her shelter has jumped 26 percent. "And my shelter was at capacity last year," Peek added. "We tell people -- this is a permanent solution to a temporary problem -- you don't need to regret this, you don't need to do this."

In response to the housing crisis, rescuers are trying to cook up creative solutions to help keep animals with their owners.

Leilani Vierra, the chief executive officer of Placer SPCA in California, concocted a forward-thinking solution. When a 25-year-old woman showed up at the shelter in tears because she couldn't afford to keep her cat, it spurred the staff into action. Vierra's shelter raised $35,000 for an SOS fund. It's used for things such as pet rental deposits to be given out as grants or loans, and can be paid back in small increments over time.

"It doesn't make any sense to have somebody in there sobbing because they have to give up their animal," Vierra said. "This is a human problem, because in the U.S. most of these animals are treated as family members, so this is like losing a family member."

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