1,200 homes foreclosed on in past month in Charlotte area

Pets Also Victims Of Soaring Foreclosures In Charlotte Area, Jan. 21, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Another, unsettling symptom of the housing crisis -- the Humane Society of the United States is reporting an alarming number of displaced animals. Some are given up by owners who are forced to move out, others are simply abandoned.

Animal shelters -- including Charlotte's --- are quickly filling up.

Pebbles is now a resident of the Humane Society of Charlotte’s shelter. She was found abandoned in a house in Gaston County and is still recovering.

"She was actually in pretty bad condition. She's better now," said Kristi Perman of the Humane Society of Charlotte.

Though they aren't sure about why Pebbles was left behind, the Humane Society of the United States suspects she could have been a victim of the disturbing trend of pets being left behind after foreclosures.

"An animal will literally starve to death. It's a horrible way to die, especially for an animal that's lived as part of a family -- they're sitting there waiting for their family to come home," said Stephanie Shain, an animal care expert.

A report compiled this month for Eyewitness News shows 1,200 Charlotte-area foreclosures over the past month.

In most cases, Eyewitness News was told those families are bringing their animals to shelters, which are already near capacity.

Charlotte's Humane Society took in 1,500 dogs and cats last year. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control said told us they've accepted 15,000 more.

It’s often an emotional experience for the owners.

"You know they have to move -- where they're moving they can't take their pets. Whether it be a new apartment or townhome,” Perman said. "We get those situations a lot. It's difficult to see sometimes. They really care about their pets -- they just can't take them with them.”

The United States Humane Society says if you're forced to move out of your home and into a rental unit, don't just ask your landlord whether pets are allowed. Get his or her permission in writing to avoid disagreements later and to avoid having to give up your animals.

In North Carolina, animal abandonment is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If you're in need of help for your pets, or if you'd like to adopt one of these animals, visit the Humane Society of Charlotte’s Web site.

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