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Abandoned pets are both exotic pets and companion animals that are either inadvertently or deliberately cast off by their owners. This commonly occurs when an owner dies, when a pet becomes disruptive or grows too large, or if the pet was an impulse buy, like rabbits bought for Easter without thinking of the care required for them. The financial crisis of 2007–2010 has resulted in a number of pets abandoned for economic reasons. Typical of this group are pets left behind when the owner's home is foreclosed. These animals can be left alone on the property or dropped off at an animal shelter. They are often discovered after the foreclosure process, when the realtor or bank enters the home. Animals lucky enough to survive until they are discovered are often in poor condition due to lack of resources such as food and water.
Pets are abandoned for a variety of reasons. Often, when abandoned, pets are forced to fend for themselves, and become feral. In particular, cats and dogs go to colonies. Feral cats are said to outnumber feral dogs. Feral cats are difficult to deal with, as often they become impossible to socialize enough to be re-introduced to a new human owner. In general, only newly abandoned cats and very young feral kittens can be tamed.
Currently the exact number of foreclosure pets is unknown. People often drop animals off at a shelter and claim they are moving, when in fact they are leaving due to foreclosure. However, it is thought the numbers are climbing due to high foreclosure rates. As homeowners run out of time and options, they often leave their animals behind. The animals are then classified as abandoned foreclosure pets.
The pets left behind in homes are often left without food or water. Some do not survive because of the lack of resources and are found dead when realtors or banks enter the premises. The animals are put in harm's way, and it is often believed it is done as a way to retaliate against those who took the home away.
Pets are not able to survive in the wild without resources, which means they are at a disadvantage whenever they are left without humans to watch over them. Many are left to starve or become dehydrated.
Many animals left at a shelter are euthanized due to lack of space and financial resources for these animals. Shelters unable to raise additional funds to provide for the increased number of incoming animals have no choice but to euthanize them, sometimes within days.
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