Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

mortgage crisis and the abandonment of pets

Seems like half the world is blogging about the articles that hit the news recently about the non-human casualties in the mortgage crisis. I have seen a lot of anger and scorn directed at the “owners” of these animals, but none directed at the landlords who discriminate against pet owners. Yet both deserve it.

I’ve moved a fair number of times (7 cities in the last 12 years, but closer to 10 residences in those 12 years), and mostly I have rented. The two places I’ve owned, a townhouse and a condo, had rules and regs from the condo or homeowners association detailing what kind, how many, and how large our pets could be. The places I’ve rented have been almost impossibly strict.

Finding places that allow pets has varying degrees of difficulty depending on the location. And by that I mean city. I had applied and interviewed for a job in Hawaii, on Oahu, and when I researched apartments there, I was quickly discouraged. Out of the entire island, I had a choice of about five apartments that would allow my one cat. If I had two cats, I’d have been down to about 2 choices. If I had a dog, 1 choice, and only if the dog was small. That was two years ago, but from what I understood that was a normal state of things on Oahu. Granted I was only looking at places that were renting for less than $1500. (And for that, I’d have gotten about 300 sq ft of living space!)

Well, I didn’t get that job, which was perhaps a good thing, because in moving to the DC area I ended up in an area where I had a 30% increase in salary to handle rents that were not much lower than Oahu, but bigger living spaces and somewhat less restrictive landlords.

Yet it still wasn’t easy. I spent weeks haunting the rentals online, only to find over and over that the places I was interested in were rented within hours of them being posted. Those that allowed pets at all. I did finally find a place to rent as I was halfway across the country, it was cut that close.

When I moved to Phoenix in ’97 I had a 45lb dog. The only place I could find for us to live, at least in my small budget, had a limit of a 35lb dog, and that was a godsend, because it was quite literally the only place that had a limit greater than 25lbs that I could have afforded. So I lied. We didn’t get evicted, lucky for us.

Phoenix, in retrospect, was one of the easier cities to deal with, probably because the cheap housing, at the time, meant we all had more choices.

So, for me, with my varied renting experience, when I hear about these people who have ended up having their houses foreclosed…well, nothing is going to make me think kindly of someone who would abandon their pet for any reason at all. At the same time, I know it is more than them being lazy about paying a couple bills that will get them foreclosed on. I wish like hell they took their responsibilities towards their dogs, cats, birds, turles, lizards, fish, and every other non-human species more seriously, that they didn’t see abandonment as a possibility at all. For that matter, I wish that humans treated other humans with more compassion as a rule.

However, I also know that people who have even medium size dogs are going to find it near impossible to find a place to live that will allow their dogs to come with them. Large dogs are going to make it that much harder. More than two animals of whatever species, except maybe fish? Yet more difficult. Completely impossible? Well, that depends on where you live. When you have the money and the time and other resources, you can make just about anything happen. People facing debt and foreclosure don’t have those resources. No, I am not making excuses for people who abandon animals.

I can’t help but to think about how many fewer animals would be abandoned if landlords weren’t the kind of unethical people who felt justified in discriminating against pets. They are directly contributing to the issue of homeless animals in this country, and I think it is time we made them share the blame.

So, to everyone who is outraged on hearing of the people who have abandoned their pets (which is pretty much everyone), don’t forget to give the discriminatory landlords an equal helping of that scorn.

stray cat

2 responses to “mortgage crisis and the abandonment of pets

  1. Dino February 2, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I’m going to have to show this to my friends who are quiet pissed at hearing about those abandoned animals. You’re absolutely right that the greedy, discriminatory landlords need to share the heaping helpings of scorn too. It’s like blaming the working class for being poor. >_<

  2. Deb February 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Dino, that’s exactly right! And of course the less money we have to spend on a rental, the less rental options we have, so it is also a “class” discrimination as well as a discrimination against people with pets.

    I don’t understand people who would abandon their pets, but I also know it isn’t as simple a situation as the media tends to paint things. Regardless, anytime things are made harder for people to take care of their pets (or people, for that matter), others suffer. And that is unacceptable to me.

    Wish more people would see it that way so we could put pressure on the landlords via their “public image”.

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