Truly Innocent Victims-Foreclosure Pets

15 Aug Truly Innocent Victims-Foreclosure Pets

In the current wave of foreclosures, which many experts say has not yet peaked, a new phrase has entered the lexicon–foreclosure pets. Foreclosure pets are pets that have been left behind when a home is foreclosed. In some cases it is clear that foreclosure (or eviction) was only one of a number of serious problems, like the case in Ohio where 50 cats were found in a house after an evicition. In other cases, it may be a single pet, left behind perhaps because a family’s new rental unit doesn’t allow pets.

Foreclosure is an emotional and overwhelming experience, and it is not always easy to find a good home for a pet. (I know; my daughter brought home a pregnant stray cat a year ago, and I still have several kittens. Well, they’re cats now.) I suspect that this phenomenon also has to do with a common misperception about foreclosure. Many of my clients expect that they will be put out of their homes immediately. They fear coming home and finding their belongings in the street; many times they have been told by collection agents that will happen. In South Carolina, a full judicial foreclosure state, it takes at least four months, and often six months or longer to complete a foreclosure. Other states (Georgia is one) have a much quicker process, but it is never instantaneous. Perhaps some of those leaving pets behind believe that someone will be coming just behind them to take care of things. If that is the case, they could not be more wrong. It can take months to foreclose; even worse, because of excessive inventory of foreclosed properties, lenders are sometimes deciding not to foreclose, or to postpone foreclosure.

Don’t let the truly innocent suffer needlessly. If you are facing foreclosure and cannot care for your pets, or if you know someone has left a pet behind, call your local animal shelter or humane society. There are also rescue organizations of all sorts, including those focused on virtually any type of purebred dog, cat, or horse. A couple of examples: www.emergencyanimalrescue.org rescues domestic and wild animals in crisis situations, and www.bestfriends.org rescues dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits, to name a few. Or visit www.foreclosurepets.org to get help, or make a donation. If you can take in an abandoned pet, there will be stars in your crown in heaven, and a lot of fun right here in the meantime. And if you’d like to talk to me about a really cute cat….

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Däna (pronounced "Donna") Wilkinson, has been a bankruptcy lawyer in South Carolina for 20 years. She is certified as a bankruptcy specialist by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
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