[caption id="attachment_2475" align="aligncenter" width="640"]beautiful black foreclosure kitty Pepper, our new foreclosure cat.[/caption]   I met Pepper at the Animal Humane Society in St. Paul, where he emerged from the wall of caged cats to investigate the couple wandering past, rubbing his head on us and purring so loudly that we could feel it. It was love. We wanted to adopt Pepper. As I was signing the adoption papers, the clerk told us Pepper's story. "Let's see," she began, "he's six months old, and his previous owners couldn't keep him because one of them lost their job and they couldn't afford to stay in their home, so they moved in with one of the owner's parents, but his mom's allergic to cats. So here we are!" A foreclosure kitty. How fitting that the author of this blog should end up with a victim of foreclosure. Pepper's previous owners did the right thing by bringing him in for adoption. Unfortunately, we often find pets left behind in the homes we service. When we come across a abandoned animal, we make sure that it gets the care it needs. If we're equipped to transport the lost critter, we bring it back to our shop and either find it a new home, or take it to a local animal shelter. If we are unable to wrangle the forgotten fellow, we contact local animal-control authorities and coordinate a visit. Lately, though, I've come across a disturbing trend. Over the last couple of months, we've found a number of dead cats in homes. They had been locked inside, without food or water. They died slowly of starvation and dehydration. [caption id="attachment_2467" align="aligncenter" width="425"]Locked inside. Locked inside.[/caption] There is undeniable trauma involved with foreclosure. It's the closing of a life chapter, and a debilitating blow to one's stability. Foreclosure affects one's economy, emotions, and outlook. It's a major life upheaval. There are many reasons that one might lose a home. Bad luck is one thing. Fiscal mismanagement is another. Declining health, job loss, and divorce are legitimate, frequent causes of foreclosure. But scenes like the one above show unspeakable cruelty towards living creatures. Some pet owners might think that the bank, the real estate company, or someone else will be around to take care of their abandoned pets. In many cases, though, weeks or months can pass between the time when a homeowner vacates the premises, and when property preservation and maintenance professionals enter the home for the first time. By then it might be too late. There are many options for you if you're facing foreclosure and aren't sure if you'll be able to take your pet with you. Petfinder.com has an easy-to-use feature that allows you to find animal shelters close to you. Another great organization is No Paws Left Behind, a non-profit "dedicated to bringing awareness and finding solutions to the growing phenomena of foreclosure pets."  You can also download tips at American Humane for homeowners, mortgage lenders, and shelter professionals. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has a FAQ sheet for pet owners facing foreclosure that includes this advice: - Try to find someone to foster or adopt your pet(s). Check with your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. - Contact local rescue organizations to see if they can help you find a home. If you have a purebred dog, go to http://www.akc.org/breeds/rescue.cfm to find a rescue organization devoted to your dog's breed. Listings of purebred cat rescues are available at http://purebredcats.org/. - Advertise your adoptable pet(s) in a pet-specific classified ad listing (see some resources below). Screen potential adopters as carefully as possible to ensure that your pet ends up in a quality home. - Your veterinarian may also be able to help you identify a foster home or find a new home for your pet. Do NOT, however, leave your pet on the veterinary clinic's doorstep! - Contact your local animal shelter or animal control facility to see whether it will accept your pet and assist in finding it a new home if you are unable to find a home for it yourself. [caption id="attachment_2476" align="aligncenter" width="640"]This is one happy kitty. This is one happy kitty who has two very happy owners.[/caption] There are many options for pet owners who, for whatever reason, have to walk away from their pets. Today, Pepper has a new home. He's affectionate, curious, playful, and completely house trained. He's a wonderful addition to our home. Pepper's story has a happy ending. The poor gray fellow pictured above did not. There are two ways these tales can go.

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