—Credit counselors share resources to care for your pet when facing foreclosure
Distressed homeowners facing foreclosure can use all of the emotional support they can get—from friends, relatives, and even their pets. In this anxiety-ridden time, spending time with a dog or cat lowers blood pressure, improves mood, and greatly reduces stress. Yet many who lose their homes are not in the financial position to care for their beloved pets. Making matters worse, it’s difficult to find a landlord who will accept an animal, even with an additional “pet deposit.” When in this bind, many endure the heartbreak of giving up their pets.
With approximately 4 million American homeowners 90 days or more delinquent on their mortgages or in foreclosure proceedings, the foreclosure crisis is far from over. Unemployment numbers fail to improve, and experts are concerned that a new wave of foreclosures will hit due to sustained job losses. Animal shelters have already seen dramatic increases in requests for pet food, and the number of “foreclosure pets.”
The credit counselors at nonprofit Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, who regularly counsel homeowners in default, have see more and more families expressing fear of giving up their pets. Clearpoint offers suggestions on how to care for your pets if you lose your home.
If you are forced to relocate, take your pets with you. Their chance for survival if abandoned or set free is slim. Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers if they will care for your pets temporarily until you can get back on your feet. Your vet may provide low-cost boarding, or set up a payment plan while you relocate.
Some animal shelters and rescue organizations may offer to take your pets for a few months at no- or reduced cost. However, if you don’t pick up your pets within that time, and the organization is overcrowded, the animals may be placed up for adoption or euthanized. If all else fails, and you must surrender your pets, first visit www.petfinders.com search for a “no-kill” shelter. Also try calling your local SPCA for suggestions.
Due to the great demand, animal shelters and pet rescue groups across the country have set up pet food assistance programs for those struggling to meet basic expenses who may otherwise have to give up their pets. In response, many national pet food banks have opened or expanded across the country. If your city or town is not on the list, please call your local SPCA, Humane Society, or vet to inquire about similar programs in your area.
If taking care of one or two pets is a financial challenge, image adding a litter of puppies or kittens to the equation. Protect yourself, your neighbors and pets by getting your dogs and cats “fixed.” Free and low-cost spay and neuter programs are available nationwide to people with low incomes. Others may trade for services in exchange for your volunteer time. Again, share your situation with local shelters and vets and see if they can refer you to local resources.
If your pet is sick, hurt, or in need of preventative care you cannot afford, see if your vet can help by negotiating a payment plan with you or allowing you perform a service in exchange for payment–cleaning kennels, designing a website, answering phones or walking dogs are just a few examples.
Many veterinary schools offer low-cost services for those with limited incomes. Locate your nearest vet school and call to see if they run such a clinic.
Since vets in smaller towns usually charge less, if you’re in a city, try visiting another office in a nearby town.
Getting though a foreclosure is difficult. Former homeowners often see few ways to keep their pets and become tempted to make decisions that end up making the situation more stressful and disappointing. Rescue shelters across the country have come to the aid of pet-owners facing foreclosure. Taking advantage of these resources can help keep the whole family together.
For a free appointment with a Clearpoint consumer credit counselor or housing counselor specializing in mortgage default and foreclosure counseling, call toll-free 1.877.412.2227 (CCCS).