Archive for January, 2008

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Article published Monday, December 31, 2007
CATS AND DOGS
As foreclosures increase with area housing crisis, shelters see more animals

Photo

Penny Broome helps her children Sarah, 4, and Jack, 2, meet Grayson, a dog they adopted at the Toledo humane society.
( THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON )

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They were up to their ears in cats and dogs this fall at the Toledo Area Humane Society.
“We can comfortably accommodate 30 to 35 dogs, and this year we had some days when we had 70 dogs,” said Natasha Bailey, director of operations. “We were so full in November we could not accommodate any more.”
The humane society and other area animal shelters and adoption services say they took in more pets this year as an increasing number of northwest Ohioans were affected by the nationwide mortgage crisis.
Some families turned to rental properties after losing their homes to foreclosure and were horrified to learn their landlords didn’t allow cats or dogs, or only would permit pets for those who paid an additional deposit or a higher monthly rental fee.
“The economy has definitely had a very detrimental effect upon the pet situation in Toledo,” said board president Jack Fynes of the Toledo Animal Shelter. “People come in and tell us, ‘I either have to feed my kids or feed my dog.’•”
Home foreclosures in Lucas Countyty rose to nearly 3,475 in 2007, an increase of about 200 from last year or almost 1,000 more than in 2005.
Meanwhile, the annual number of pets taken in to the Toledo-area humane society has increased from 4,268 in 2005 to more than 6,000 by the end of this year, Miss Bailey said.
Northwest Ohio-based Planned Pethood Inc., has seen an increase in the number of people who have had to return their adopted cat or dog because of financial reasons, often related to housing concerns, according to Nikki Morey, dog-intake coordinator.
“We have noticed an exponential increase of people having to return animals either because they’re being foreclosed, or because they are having to take on a second job to avoid foreclosure,” she said.
Four people last year returned their pets to Planned Pethood for housing-related matters; this year, 12 people did. There also were more families that just couldn’t afford the cost of feeding and properly caring for a cat or dog, which often is over $500 a year, Ms. Morey said.
The holidays traditionally are a popular time for pet adoptions, and the humane society was able to find new owners this month for many of the cats and dogs that were crowding its shelter during the fall. By last week, the number of dogs still waiting for a home was down to 30, Miss Bailey said.
Yet shelter staff members – along with many economists – remain concerned that the mortgage crisis could continue to spread, uprooting more humans, Sparkies, and Felixes in the months ahead. Just to get through fall’s deluge of surrendered pets, the humane society had to turn to its emergency network of animal foster home volunteers.
To make life as easy as possible for both owner and pet, Miss Bailey recommends that families facing foreclosure contact animal shelters or adoption agencies as early as possible.
Staff members can help people keep their animals by finding rental units with liberal pet policies. At the least, they can give families a head start in the adoption process so that their dog or cat won’t spend weeks waiting in a shelter.
“People have tried to keep their pets to the last possible minute,” Miss Bailey said. “And when moving day comes, they have no choice but to turn them in.”
Contact JC Reindl at:
jreindl@theblade.com
or 419-724-6065.