Rise in home foreclosures also impacts animals

By: Rosemary Frieborn, Guest Columnist
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As the number of home foreclosures rise, so too does the number of families looking for alternative housing. As a result, animal shelters and rescue groups are seeing an increase in the number of pets also looking for new homes as displaced families seek temporary housing with family or move into rental units. Many well-intentioned and heartbroken pet owners turn to the classified section of their local newspaper, community bulletin boards or the ever-popular Craigslist, to find a beloved pet a new owner. Simply wanting a good home for Fluffy, some people post free to good home or to a good home ads, which may or may not be in Fluffy's best interest. As Placer County's humane officer, I'd like you to be aware of some of the deleterious situations that occur all too often in spite of a seemingly perfect match for Fluffy and her next forever home when using these types of ads. Many of the animals will suffer neglect and abuse, and some will be killed as a result of these ads. It's not for the love of paperwork that accredited rescue groups require full disclosure applications and sometimes, home inspections. And it's not by accident that many who will bring intentional harm to animals have learned to present themselves as loving, responsible pet owners. Kittens, especially, are used as live bait for exotic animals, such as snakes or alligators. Cats and dogs can be sold at auctions, or worse yet, to individuals called bunchers who make their living by rounding up free animals and selling them to Class-B dealers who, in turn, sell them to research facilities. Stories about convicted animal hoarders tell us they obtained their animals as strays and/or from people who could no longer keep them. Free to good home and to a good home animals are used to live train fighting dogs. The animal you expected to be kept as a family pet is instead used to bait a fighting dog. Often free is just too good to pass up for some people, but frequently they have little long-term commitment for the animal's health and welfare. While you will never be certain of the new home your pet will be entering, you can avoid the perils I describe here by charging an adoption fee that makes collecting your pet unprofitable for those not sincere about its well-being. In exchange for a $75 (and up) fee, take the opportunity to bring your pet's preventive medical care up to date before handing over your pet; examination, vaccinations and of course spay or neutering. The adoption fee will offset a portion of these expenses. It's a convenience for the new owner, who'll be getting an animal that's veterinarian certified to be in good health. Or, consider donating the fee to your local animal rescue organization to help care for those animals that are simply abandoned when a family is forced to leave their home. It's certainly a bargain for the adopter and a safety measure for Fluffy. Finally, we recognize the emotional turmoil people are in when faced with the loss of a home. We also recognize the stress that will no doubt affect and alter, at least temporarily, the behavior of the pets involved when suddenly uprooted from those they love. For this reason, nonprofit rescue groups throughout Placer County are poised to help wherever possible. If you suspect that you may need assistance, start researching the possibility of temporary or permanent homes through legitimate groups as early as possible. If time is limited and you feel you must place an ad in the newspaper, include your intent to require an adoption fee of at least $75, as well as a full-disclosure application with references. These simple steps will help to encourage only those with loving intensions arrive at your doorstep. “ Rosemary Frieborn, RVT, is a humane officer for Friends of Placer County Animal Shelter.