(Credit Slips) In my free-time, I frequently cruise the sites of horse rescues and adoption facilities. I certainly don't need another large, four-legged, hairy family member, but, like visiting the local ice cream shop, it's fun to look. Anyway, I've come across several comments describing some of the less-recognized effects of the economic downturn and the increase in home foreclosures. Namely, it appears that as people lose their homes and their jobs, they are increasingly forced to leave their horses at rescues or other shelters. (Even more disturbing, because the market is currently flooded with horses and they are so expensive to maintain, many end up slaughtered rather than at rescues and shelters.) And back in December, The Columbus Dispatch ran a piece on families who had lost their homes in foreclosure and had to leave their dogs at the Franklin County Dog Shelter. The director of the shelter, Lisa Wahoff, said: "There's even a national term for it: 'foreclosure dogs.' We started seeing it more about 18 months ago, people writing 'foreclosure' or 'financial reasons' on their surrender forms."
Losing one's home is painful for many reasons--loss of security, loss of self, loss of a family space, loss of the American dream. But I would expect that the loss is especially acute when the family has to part with their pet, because, as most pet-owners will tell you, they may have four legs, but they are still members of our families. Certainly this isn't as consequential as homelessness, but my guess is that it doesn't make it any less painful when Mom or Dad has to leave their child's horse or the family dog at the shelter. It's just another example of the range of the fallout from our current economic situation in this country.