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Abandoned Pets Since 2007 Estimated at 1 to 2 Million

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The number of abandoned pets has been estimated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 1 to 2 million since the start of the recession in December 2007.

Abandoned Pets Since 2007 Estimated at 1 to 2 Million

According to Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser and a top executive of ASPCA, animal shelters and rescues have been struggling because of the overwhelming number of pets brought in by pet owners evicted from foreclosed homes and by families who can no longer afford to feed their pets or no longer have space to care for their pets.

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Additionally, donations to animal shelters and rescues have dropped considerably. Joanne Farrell, head of Naples, Florida-based Homeward Bound Greyhounds, which rescues former racing greyhounds, said donations have gone down by more than 50 percent and that the organization now owes food suppliers and veterinarians.

Tink Bechtol, head and founder of Brooke's Legacy Animal Rescue in Naples, said the pet adoption agency has been getting calls every day from families moving out of their foreclosed homes and asking to have their pets taken care of.

Michael Simonik, head of the Humane Society in Naples, said that the number of abandoned pets have been growing because of the continued rise in foreclosures. Most foreclosed families call animal shelters before they leave their homes, but animal rescues have not been able to accept many of the pets because they do not have enough funds and space.

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In Lee County, there are now more pet owners that need help and less people willing to adopt pets. According to Donna Ward, head of Domestic Animal Services, the county program called Our Community Pet Pantry provides pet food to 173 pet owners taking care of 803 animals.

In Collier County, the number of residents willing to adopt unwanted pets has also gone down because of the current downturn.

Meanwhile in California, private donations and government funding for animal shelters have also been drastically reduced. At Daphneyland, a popular rescue organization founded in 2002, donations fell by 40 percent and volunteers had to quit because they need to find second or third jobs to pay their bills and debts.

While pet food banks in the past were visited by donors, now they are deluged by pet owners asking for pet foods.

According to Dawn Smith, head and founder of Daphneyland, if the rescue organization is not able to get more funds, her group will not be able to rescue abandoned pets and may not even be able to survive.

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James Fox has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosures market over 5 years.

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