In Difficult Times, ASPCA® Urges Families Facing Foreclosure: "Please, Don't Leave Your Pets Behind"

January 28, 2009

NEW YORK—As the downturn in the economy continues, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today responded to the flurry of recent media reports about pets being both left behind in foreclosed homes and abandoned in shelters. The ASPCA wants to remind pet parents everywhere that they have options when faced with these heart-breaking decisions.

“While the ASPCA has not personally experienced an increase in animal intake to its Manhattan Adoption Center due to the economy, we have heard that many shelters across the country are seeing an increase in the number of abandoned animals,” said Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Executive Vice President of ASPCA Programs & Science Advisor. “This issue will vary drastically from region to region across the United States, and without a network in place to collect and report these numbers from the nearly 5,000 community animal shelters nationwide, it is difficult to quantify.”

“The loss of a home is devastating and can only be made worse by having to also leave behind a beloved family pet,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “The ASPCA wants to remind pet owners that planning ahead is the best way to make an informed decision. Even though options in these cases may be less than ideal, it will be much better than simply leaving the pet behind in an abandoned home.”

The ASPCA offers this advice for people who are faced with foreclosure and the loss of their pets:

  • Check with friends, family and neighbors to see if someone can provide temporary foster care for your pet until you get back on your feet. Agree to a specific time frame, and check on the pet regularly;
  • If you are moving into a rental property, make sure pets are allowed and get permission in advance—and in writing; and
  • Contact your local animal shelter, humane society or rescue group, in advance of your move, since many shelters limit their admissions to the number of animals they can adequately care for.  If a shelter agrees to take in your pet, provide medical records, behavior information, and anything else that might assist shelter workers in finding your pet a new home. 

“It is difficult and heartbreaking to lose a pet as a result of economic hardship,” continued Sayres. “But pet parents may take comfort in knowing that their pet will be better off, if they plan ahead and keep their cat or dog’s well-being in mind.”

For more information about the ASPCA and its programs, please visit