Pets are the latest foreclosure casualties

June 25, 2009 7:31:10 PM PDT
The consequences of the foreclosure crisis do not only affect people. Pets are also finding themselves out in the cold.

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It's difficult enough to lose a home but on top of that many people also have to part with a family pet. It's happening more and more, and this is one heart wrenching example.

The economy's been tough on Tonette Frisby. She lost her job, suffered a stroke and now her bank is foreclosing on her house she inherited from her father 15 years ago.

But there's something even harder. Right now she's more worried for "Mama," "Fetish," "Grunt," Boy" and their mother, "Little One" -- Tonette's companions for the past 15 years.

"They let me hug them and pick them up and they followed me through the house, and if I cried they would just sit there and look at me like okay, something's not good," said Frisby.

Frisby will move into a small apartment. Her cats won't be allowed to go with her.

"I don't want to give them up. I wish I didn't have to," said Frisby. "It just hurts, it's not fair," said Frisby.

The cats have nowhere to go. Frisby tried friends, animal shelters and Craigslist. No one would take in a family of five aging cats.

"It was really difficult because they treat cats like they treat humans. You're old, nobody wants them," said Frisby.

And with all the foreclosures these days, shelters are filled with pets surrendered by people who've lost their homes. Sometimes officials say they find animals abandoned inside deserted homes.

"Every sign says the place is vacated but then we may see a curtain move or hear a bark or whimper or something like that and we pretty much suspect an animal has been left," said Vallejo Code Enforcement Officer Nimat Shakoor.

Shakoor says some are left starving.

"It's a travesty to have an animal die because it's been left behind in a vacant house," said Shakoor.

"I was not going to leave them here, I can't do that. They're like depending on me," said Frisby.

Tonette hopes for a loving home, but in any case, she's steering clear of shelters that euthanize un-adopted animals.

"That's the first thing they cannot kill my cats. Can't happen," said Frisby.

But with her boxes packed and her house about to go on the auction block, Frisby is running out of time.

"I've always heard about Michael Finney. Everybody says you got a problem, call Michael Finney," said Frisby.

So she called 7 On Your Side and help was found. Folks at the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society really stepped up. They waived the usual surrender fees and agreed to take all five cats.

"The volunteers that we have and the staff that we have, will care for them like they're their own animals," said Peter Wilson.

For Frisby, it was a bittersweet solution.

"I go through days where I'm really happy it's like God they got a home and it went quickly and other days it goes, oh no I got to give them away," said Frisby.

On Friday night, we'll show you what happened when Frisby surrendered her animals. This kind of loss is the undercurrent of the foreclosure crisis happening to so many.

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