Don’t Leave Them Behind: Foreclosure Help For People & Their Pets

All of us have been affected, or know someone who has been affected by the housing crisis. What you might not realize is how this affects the pets we love. Many pet owners are being forced from their homes through foreclosures and short sales, and forced into rentals that might not accept their pets, putting a huge strain on local rescue organizations and animal shelters.

To make matters worse, a growing number of individuals increase the strain, by being extremely irresponsible in their final act as pet owners. People are abandoning their homes with the pets still in them. This may seem horrendous to most of us, who cherish our pets as part of the family. However, this problem exists in California and throughout the country.  These animals are left in the abandoned homes, until the realtor or bank assignee discovers them. Due to the massive numbers of foreclosures, it usually takes weeks and sometimes months, before someone is assigned by the bank.

As a realtor, I have seen and heard numerous heartbreaking stories. Animal rescue groups do their best to respond as quickly as possible, to get these animals connected with a new loving family or foster family. Unfortunately, sometimes it‘s just too late. In one heart wrenching story, a dog was left in an abandoned home for so long, she was forced to eat her own puppies to survive.

This is a call to action! Each of us can help to make a difference. If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to stay in your home, call a financial advisor, attorney, and realtor. These professionals have different specializations that will help you come to the best decision on how to proceed.

A financial advisor can help you find ways to consolidate your debt, as well as determine exactly how much you can afford for housing. The attorney will explain your different options, such as bankruptcy, loan modification or short sale. The attorney will help you through the bankruptcy filing, as well as determining which type of bankruptcy you are eligible for. If loan modification is the best option, an attorney specializing in that field is the best avenue, since the paperwork can be confusing and overwhelming.

Finally, if you decide to sell your home through either short sale or conventional sale, call a realtor to list and market your house.They can also tell you how long you can expect the sale to take, and help you through the paperwork of a short sale, to ensure the bank forgives the balance of your loan. Many people make the incorrect assumption that a short sale approval alone, forgives the remaining balance due on the home, which is not true for all banks.

Realtors should not give advice about your finances, which is why it’s imperative to meet with a financial advisor and/or attorney about your particular situation beforehand.  When selecting a realtor, make sure they are knowledgeable about your area. More importantly, choose one you are comfortable with and who listens to you. The selling process is stressful for everyone, but the added stress of financial crisis, makes it even worse. The last thing you want is to deal with is someone who doesn’t care about you or your family.

For those of you who are already in the foreclosure process, and cannot keep your pet(s), please take your final steps as pet owners seriously. Talk to your local shelter about the adopt ability of your pet. If the shelter is full, call local animal rescues in your area, including breed specific rescues. If you don’t know rescues in your area, please check the list on my website at For the rest of us, we can do our part by calling local authorities at the first sign of an abandoned property.

Times are tough for everyone; there is no reason to neglect the responsibilities we took on when bringing these pets into our home.They give us so much joy and unconditional love, we can’t just abandon them.

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