Foreclosures, Evictions and Pets


People are losing their homes – sometimes landing on the street, the same is true for pets. In some places around the Chicago area, and around the country, shelter intakes are up and the number of roaming stray cats and dogs are also up – it all seems tied to the the increase in foreclosures and evictions.

Animal welfare leaders and those in the housing industry came together for the ASPCA sponsored event at the Anti Cruelty Society of Chicago, a Summit on Animals, Evictions and Foreclosures, September 17. The event was put together and facilitated by Dr. Patricia Rushing of the University of Illinois Institute for Community Policing and Government Affairs. I was honored to participate.

(l to r) Representing the Chicago Association of Realtors Brian Bernardoni, senior director of government and public policy; Suzy Thomas, realtors to the rescue; me; Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative analyst Best Friends Animal Society and Cynthia Bathurst, co-chair Alderman Gene Schulter’s Task Force on Companion Animals & Public Safety and Founder Safe Humane Chicago, and Court Advocacy D.A.W.G.

So, all these experts come together – including local stars as well as national superstars like Dr. Stephen Zawistkowski, executive vice-president National Programs and Science Advisor at ASPCA and psychologist and ASPCA senior director counseling services Dr. Stephanie LaFarge with Jane McBride, from the Illinois States Attorney’s Office and Illinois Humane; Kankakee Police Chief Mike Kinkade; Professor Robert Rich, U of I Institute of Government and Public Affairs; and longtime supporter on animal related issues Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, among others.

So – what was the outcome?

(Photos courtesy Anti Cruelty Society of Chicago)


Here’s what was decided by the completion of the Summit:
– Dr. Rushing will oversee completion of a white paper on the topic
– Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president Anti Cruelty Society of Chicago and myself will oversee a committee with Suzy Thomas of Realtors to the Rescue to encourage pet friendlier apartments and condominiums. If people have more choices, more places to go with pets, it will help enormously. Besides the housing industry needs to fill up units, and most people in America do have at least one pet.
– Consideration of using Foster families to help out those foreclosed upon or evicted until they can get back on their feet.
– Education, to help make people aware that there may be options for pets (although limited), and that it is actually illegal to abandon animals.
– To communicate through the media that animals being left behind further emotionally breaks down families, particularly children. And when shelters fill up, not only is there a humane cost, there is an associated financial cost to the community. The same financial cost when it comes to animal control (already overworked) needing to pick up still more stray animals. Also, the animals ultimately land at animal control, often perceived as a ‘bad guy’ because their only choice – despite efforts to adopt the pets – may be to euthanize. The perception of municipal facilities may not be accurate.

If you missed the Summit, you can hear me interview participants including Ledy Van Kavage of the ASPCA; Brian Bernardoni, representing Chicago Association of Realtors; Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy and Dr. Robyn Barbiers, president of the Anti Cruelty Society on my On Demand Radio Show.

(photo courtesy of Anti Cruelty Society of Chicago)