Foreclosures leave animals homeless

PINION HILLS They're the latest victims in the housing foreclosure crisis -- farm animals. Horses, donkeys and even goats are among the animals abandoned along with the houses their owners can no longer afford.

"It's really sad, especially for the horses. Dogs and cats have always been an ongoing issue, but people think they can turn the horses loose in the desert and they'll survive," said Tania Bennett, who runs Mustang-Spirit Horse Rescue in Pinion Hills.

Bennett says the horses can't survive on their own. And as the number of foreclosures rises, so does the number of abandoned animals.

"People leave them in their back yards, or turn them out, think they'll fend for themselves," said Bennett. "We've gotten a lot of people telling us they're in the Norco River bottom, just turning them loose."

Down at the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter, Brian Cronin says the number of abandoned horses has doubled over the past year. Even though it's illegal, he says some people simply can't afford to keep them.

"Usually it's one of the first considerations. If someone can't afford a mortgage payment, or having difficulty providing for their family, obviously providing for a large animal or pet is more difficult as well," said Cronin.

Just to give you an idea of how expensive it is to own a horse, it costs about $1,200 a year in feed.

"Have a little consideration for the animals and try to think about them earlier. If you know the house is going to be foreclosed, start looking for a home before you'll be out, not two days prior," said Cronin.

Preparing earlier gives these animals a fighting chance to survive -- even if their home won't be home much longer.


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