Animals Are Often Victims in Foreclosures

by Chip Parker, Esq.

July 5, 2007

stray dogWhether or not you believe homeowners are ever “victims” in foreclosures, there is little doubt that abandoned pets are always victims, and once again, average Americans are left to pay the bill.

As reported by Maya Roney of BusinessWeek, homeowners abandoning houses they can no longer afford are frequently leaving behind squalid conditions and pets that are left to fend for themselves. “Malnourished and flea-ridden animals, feces-covered floors and urine-soaked furniture, piles of rotting garbage, swarms of diseased mosquitoes — these are the horrors that may await the sheriff, property inspector, real-estate agent or passer-by making that first visit to a deserted home.”

Ms. Roney reports, “In May alone, authorities found 23 abandoned animals in a house in Lake Carmel, N.Y.; 20 birds in a Lorain, Ohio, house; 24 horses on a Bixby, Okla., property; and more than 60 cats in a home in Cincinnati. All of these properties were in foreclosure, and most of the animals were injured, infected, dehydrated and starved nearly to death.”

The foreclosure aftermath isn’t just about abandoned pets, though. In California, with the highest foreclosure total in the country, a public health crisis may be brewing in the thousands of uncared-for swimming pools on vacant properties, where mosquitoes that may carry the deadly West Nile virus are thriving.

If you’re facing a foreclosure, and you don’t want to try and save your home with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, take some responsible steps to assure your pets are cared for. If you are unable to keep your pets, try to find someone to adopt them, or contact your local animal shelter, so that they can do it for you. Additionally, make sure your cats and dogs are spayed or neutered.

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Chip Parker is the managing partner of Parker & DuFresne, P.A., where he represents Northeast Florida businesses and consumers facing bankruptcy, and homeowners facing foreclosure. His firm files more homeowners in the Mortgage Modification Mediation Program than any other law firm in Northeast Florida. Parker is the recipient of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid's prestigious Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service. Mr. Parker is an active member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.

Last modified: July 5, 2007