Friday, January 25, 2008

AFP: Family pets fall victim to subprime crisis; latest foreclosure stats from L.A. Times

As an animal lover, it sickens me to hear or read about the cruelty that humans inflict on their animal companions. The subprime crisis is bringing out the worst in us. The following is a story from Mira Oberman at Agence-Presse France, a global news agency, originally found on Yahoo.

I doubt Southern Californians will behave any differently. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the latest Southland foreclosure statistics, county by county.

A dog looks from its enclosure at a kennel at the Queen Anne's County Department of Animal Service in Queenstown, Maryland, January 24. The most pitiful victims of the subprime mortgage crisis rocking the US are the family pets as people forced out of their homes are giving up their pets. (AFP/Jim Watson)
 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.

"It's a very fearful and frantic and panicked situation for that animal to be in."

While there are no national statistics tracking how many animals are abandoned or 
dropped off at shelters, Shain said anecdotal evidence has shown "huge spikes" in 
areas hardest-hit by the housing downturn that shows no sign of easing.

Nearly two million families lost their homes to foreclosure in the first 11 months of 
last year after failing to keep up with mortgage payments, a hefty chunk of which 
were subprime loans.

That's an increase of 73 percent compared to a year earlier and represents one out of 
every 63 households nationwide, according to RealtyTrac which tracks mortgage data.

The Humane Society recently instigated a public-awareness campaign to offer tips on 
finding animal-friendly rental housing and remind people that pets are much better 
off in a shelter.

In one of the more shocking stories, more than 60 cats were found abandoned in a 
foreclosed home in Cincinnati last May, shortly after the foreclosure rate began to 
spike nationally.

Twenty of those cats are still being fostered while awaiting a permanent home, 
according to Foreclosurecats.org, a group which launched art projects to help finance 
the cost of caring for the kitties.

Most are not as lucky. Shelters across the country are habitually overcrowded and 
underfunded. Even animals which stand a good chance of being adopted are often 
euthanized in order to free up much-needed space.

That's why one pet rescue group which used to only deal with finding homes for 
hard-to-place strays has started temporarily fostering the pets of owners in 
distress.

"Most of the calls we get are from people who really want to keep their pets," said 
Melanie Roeder, the outreach manager at Chicago's Tree House Animal Foundation.

"We try to counsel them and talk about the idea of fostering, or finding a place on 
their own."

The group took in the cat of one woman who only needed a few weeks to find a new 
place to live and is open to helping others.

For others who are not able to find such a quick fix, saying goodbye is the only 
option.

"It's pretty traumatic for everybody, especially the kids," said Terri Sparks, a 
spokeswoman for Chicago's largest shelter, the Animal Welfare League.

"It's part of the family and they have no other options ... people are telling us 
we're losing our home and have to move."

While moving has always been one of the top reasons why people give up their pets to 
shelters, Sparks said more people started mentioning foreclosures a few months ago.

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.

Be sure to check out "Pain Goes Through the Roof", a January 23 story by Peter Y. Hong at the L.A. Times. "Foreclose me!" is becoming the new rallying cry of this generation. Economist Chris Thornberg says "it's clear California has entered a recession...if you think the market's bad now, wait a year."

Here are the foreclosure statistics for Q4, county by county:

Area              Q4 2006        Q4 2007       % Chg YOY
Los Angeles           942          4,536         +381.5%
Orange                327          1,538         +370.3%
Riverside             813          4,520         +456.0%
San Bernardino        463          3,058         +560.5%
San Diego             723          2,296         +217.6%
Ventura               114            542         +375.4%

And here are the top 10 Los Angeles County foreclosure zip codes:

Area             Zip        Q4 2006       Q4 2007       %YOY Chg
Altadena       91001              1            37        +3,600%
Costa Mesa     92626              1            29        +2,800%
Pico Rivera    90660              1            26        +2,500%
Anaheim        92802              1            23        +2,200%
Long Beach     90810              1            20        +1,900%
Orange         92865              1            19        +1,800%
Culver City    90230              1            18        +1,700%
Los Angeles    90016              1            17        +1,600%
Walnut         91789              1            16        +1,500%
Whittier       90605              1            16        +1,500%

2 Comments:

Blogger bearmaster said...

Here's a CNN story on the same issue:

Foreclosed: owners lose homes, abandon pets

5:40 AM, January 30, 2008  
Blogger Leon said...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Peter Nasca

Phone: (954) 473-0677

pnasca@pnapr.com



PETSTYLE TAKES LEAD IN PROVIDING RESOURCE

FOR FAMILIES FACING FORECLOSURE CRISIS IN AMERICA



Comprehensive Information Available at http://www.petstyle.com

for Those in Need as Well As Those Who Want to Help



Sept. 23, 2008 – Aventura, Fla. – In light of the current mortgage crisis, it’s projected that even more families will face the possibility of foreclosure. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 250,000 new families are entering into foreclosure every three months. Many of these families impacted by the possibility of foreclosure have dogs and/or cats and may be forced to rent in apartment complexes or homes that do not allow pets.

In response, PetStyle has created an online information and resource center for people who are facing the possibility of foreclosure and faced with making decisions about what to do with their cats or dogs. Additionally, people who want to assist those in need by providing dog or cat foster homes and adoptions can do so through PetStyle’s active online community.

Located at www.petstyle.com, dog and cat owners are encouraged to take advantage of all the tips, checklists and other valuable information available to make sure their pets are taken care of in the event they are in jeopardy of or are about to lose their homes.

The PetStyle Resource Center includes:

- Valuable tips, tools, and articles to make the foreclosure transition easier – either keeping your pet or in the worse case you must surrender your pet.

- HSUS Foreclosure Fund information and a link to a donation form.

- Special message board setup at PetStyle.com to lend a helping hand to those in need.

- Printable fact sheet.

“These are very difficult financial times and we realize that too many people who are faced with foreclosure and other financial challenges have very few options and resources available to determine what to do with their cats or dogs,” said PetStyle Vet Expert Diane Levitan, VMD. “Any dog or cat owner who is faced with the loss of a home because they can no longer make the mortgage payments and may be forced to move into housing that is not pet friendly, now have a place to find valuable pet information that may help them keep a beloved and valued member of the family.”

No stranger to compassion for animals Dr. Levitan, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, has received worldwide recognition as founder of the Center for Specialized Veterinary Care and Compassionate Care Center, the world’s first veterinary referral hospital to allow human owners to stay with their pets overnight. She also spent a week in New Orleans after Katrina as a veterinarian in recovery efforts.

“The establishment of this critical resource is in keeping with PetStyle’s mission to provide dog and cat lovers the most comprehensive information available,” added Dr. Levitan. “If a dog or cat owner has any questions about what to do when facing foreclosure we urge them to visit www.petstyle.com. We also urge those more fortunate to go the center to determine if they can provide some of the options available to assist those in need.”



About PetStyle.com

PetStyle is America's first lifestyle and social network fully dedicated to dog and cat owners who want to enhance their relationships with their pets. PetStyle provides original pet-related entertainment, information, education and community from a single trusted source.

PetStyle offers a unique and valuable experience for the dog and cat lover, featuring a broad base of exclusive content channels presented in a variety of formats including video programming, audio and text. To enhance the experience for pet owners and advertisers, the latest technology and sophisticated customer relationship management tools are hard at work behind the scenes delivering the entertainment and information pet owners crave. Visit PetStyle's lifestyle network at www.petstyle.com.



Editor’s note: Dr. Levitan is available for in-depth interviews. Please use above contact information for further details.

12:24 PM, September 24, 2008  

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