Facing Foreclosure? Protect Your Pet
Tips From the American Humane Association
The mortgage crisis and economic downturn are forcing more homeowners into foreclosure, and many of those with pets must make difficult decisions as their housing situations change. In some cases, pets are being left behind in vacated homes, where they suffer — or may die — from lack of food and water or being abandoned outside. To keep pets safe and, if possible, with their owners during a difficult time, the American Humane Association offers the following tips for homeowners and mortgage lenders who are working through the foreclosure process. These tips and additional information are available online at www.americanhumane.org.
Tips for homeowners facing foreclosure:
- Ask family, friends or co-workers to care for your pet while you relocate to pet-friendly housing.
- Ask your veterinarian or boarding facility for low-cost boarding or a payment plan while you relocate to pet-friendly housing.
- If you cannot take your pet with you, Petfinder.com can be a great resource for finding a shelter or rescue organization in your area where you can surrender your animal and which does not euthanize adoptable animals.
- Never leave your pet behind in a vacant home or set it loose to “find its own way.” It is inhumane and may violate animal cruelty laws.
- Be aware that if you leave a pet behind, when a mortgage lender takes possession of the home, your pet will be taken to the local animal control agency or shelter, where it will be at risk of an uncertain future that may include euthanasia. You could also face possible criminal charges for animal abandonment.
Tips for mortgage lenders during the foreclosure process:
- When beginning delinquency foreclosure proceedings, ask the homeowners if they have pets. Offer them American Humane’s Tips for Homeowners With Pets When Facing Home Foreclosure so they can take appropriate steps to care for their pets. (The tips are available at www.americanhumane.org.)
- Check for pets during monthly delinquency inspections, both inside and outside the home, and, if possible, ask neighbors if they are aware of any pets in the home.
- If pets are suspected to be on the property, the inspector or mortgage lender should call the local animal control agency or animal shelter and ask that an officer come to the home for suspicion of animal abandonment and/or neglect.
In most cases, an animal control officer can request a warrant to enter the home and seize the pets if food, water or shelter is insufficient. If a seizure of the animals occurs within a time period in which the mortgage lender is waiting to legally seize the home and foreclose, the animals will be kept safe. After that time, though, their futures are less certain, and they may be euthanized if not adopted.
Note: Mortgage lenders should consult with their district attorney’s office to verify the local applicability of these tips.
American Humane believes it is important for homeowners and mortgage lenders to take proactive steps to keep pets with their families. To help alleviate the pet abandonment problem and help keep pets with their families, American Humane is offering shelters grants of up to $2,000 each. The bond that people and their companion animals share can make the stressful process of dealing with a foreclosure and relocation easier to handle when the pets and their families can stay together. For more information on these tips and grants, please visit www.americanhumane.org.
reprinted from The American Humane Association website
Denver (May 22, 2008)