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New statistics show that as more homes are lost to the struggling economy more people are breaking the law by leaving their pets behind, CrimeTracker 10's Angela An reported on Tuesday.
According to the Capital Area Humane Society, there was a 34 percent increase last year in dogs and cats that were left behind.
Humane Society agents said they understand that families suffer in times of crisis and foreclosure, but they also said that pet owners still need to be aware of their responsibilities.
"There is no reason to leave an animal behind to potentially suffer," said Jodi Buckman, executive director of the Capital Area Humane Society.
For Baby, a 1-year-old Australian cattle dog mix, luck was on her side, despite being found tied to a stake behind an abandoned home, An reported.
A person spotted the dog and turned her over to authorities.
"We don't always get to them in time," Buckman said. "Sometimes the animals have died before we get the call."
Many pet owners do not realize that they can be prosecuted for abandoning a cat or a dog, An reported.
The crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
"If a family is in crisis we ask them to remember that the pet deserves your best effort," Buckman said. "It deserves to be in a safe place."
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