CHICAGO (AFP) - Forget about the lost furnishings and finances, the most pitiful victims of the subprime mortgage crisis rocking the United States are the family pets.
Shelters across the country have seen sharp upticks in the number of people giving up their pets in recent months because they have been forced out of their homes.
And -- more tragically -- neighbors, police and foreclosure agents are finding increasing numbers of pets left to fend for themselves in abandoned homes.
"We're finding too many animals who have starved to death," said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Human Society of the United States.
While some people dump their pets on the street, others go so far as to lock the animal in a closet where their cries for help are harder to hear, she said.
It can take weeks for an animal to starve to death and desperate scratch and bite marks are usually found on doors and windows.
"They will eat anything -- furniture, or carpet or wallboard -- to try to ingest something," Shain said in a telephone interview.
There’s nothing like an animal cruelty charge to go along with your foreclosure.
I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who locks their pet in a closet to muffle its cries before leaving the house for good. I can’t get there, except I know that desperate people do desperate things, and this is definitely an act of desperation. And I don’t think a check for
$600 $800 can make a dent in this level of desperation.
Check out these anecdotal “statistics” from just one animal shelter in Chicago:
About 15-20 foreclosed families are now coming into the shelter every week with their pets, and police bring in two or three pets a week found abandoned in foreclosed homes.
That’s one shelter in one city. Now wrap your head around those numbers multiplied across every shelter in every city in America.
Compounding the problem is the sorry state of most animal shelters in this country, which are ill-equipped to handle the upsurge in abandoned and rescued pets that a crisis like this causes. (Tennessee should be ashamed of itself for the pathetic state of most of its county shelters, a few of which have made the news lately).
People can argue about whether this country is technically in a recession or not. But according to RealtyTrac , “one out of every 63 households nationwide” is in foreclosure. Anyone who doesn’t think this country is already in an economic mess is delusional.