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July 28, 2008

Listening to the radio recently during my evening commute, I heard the term “foreclosure pet” for the first time. The guy on the radio was describing how he’d investigated a dog’s howling in the early morning and discovered the animal chained to a lamppost, abandoned by its owner—a “foreclosure pet,” the guy speculated.

When I could get to a computer, I Googled the term. My search revealed that the nation’s growing number of foreclosures is causing an increase in the number of pets left behind in foreclosed homes, turned loose, abandoned, or dropped off at shelters. USA Today reports that pet intakes are increasing at shelters in areas where the foreclosure rate is high.

My Google search did discover a ray of hope amid all the doom and gloom: the link “The HSUS Launches Grant Program to Help Families Care for Pets Through Tough Financial Times.” Clicking on the link, I learned that the Humane Society of the United States is offering grants to animal shelters, animal control agencies, and rescue and adoption groups to supply services that assist families in caring for their pets. Such services might include starting a pet food pantry or providing financial aid for veterinary care.

The goal is for pets to stay with their families. Not only does this keep families, including their animal members, together. The sad fact is that pets ending up at a shelter have only a 50-50 chance of being adopted. And pets that aren’t adopted, well, they aren’t kept alive indefinitely. Which just adds to the misery in these economically troubled times.

To learn more, including how to find pet-friendly housing and cut pet-ownership costs, visit humanesociety.org/foreclosurepets.