By Carey Wedler
Four hundred animals who live at an animal sanctuary in New Smyrna Beach, Florida may face euthanasia now that Bank of America has seized ownership of the property.
Tina Richardson has lived and paid rent at the property with her husband for years, and in that time, she has accumulated a large collection of miniature ponies, dogs, cats, goats, wild hogs, donkeys, roosters, turkeys, pigeons, raccoons, and opossums.
“[I have] goats and chickens and ducks and 28 cats and seven dogs, and anything that wanders in here and finds a home. So it’s kind of hard to say what all I really have,” Richardson told local ABC affiliate, WFTV-9.
An earlier version of WFTV’s report said Fannie Mae, the notorious government-sponsored mortgage company, had taken ownership of the home. This reference can be verified through a version of the article aggregated by WIHO, a Florida news outlet. However, the reference to Fannie Mae was eventually removed from the original article. Anti-Media asked the WFTV journalist, Lauren Seabrook, to clarify, and she confirmed the county said Bank of America now owns the property the Richardsons are vacating.
The WFTV report did not specify why the couple is being evicted.
Though Volusia County Animal Control said the animals appeared to be healthy with the exception of several ponies whose ribs were showing, they face the risk of euthanization if Richardson cannot find alternate shelters by Tuesday.
“Animal control officials said it’s unlikely that there are enough local animal organizations to save every animal in her care,” WFTV reported.
“Richardson said she doesn’t have a new place to take all of her animals, and with her departure deadline looming, she worries that the animals will be put down.”
“They’re like members of the family,” she said, but animal control and the bank have apparently shown little sympathy. Rather, adding insult to injury, Richardson may be charged with neglect and abuse if the animals are still on the property on Tuesday.
Animals are often the victims of tough financial times. As the Advocacy for Animals project reported during the throes of the economic crisis in 2008:
“[T]wo new reasons for relinquishing or abandoning pets have been cited more frequently in recent months. Some people can no longer afford the cost of keeping them, and others are being evicted from their homes.”
They noted the “Sacramento ASPCA reported 100 more animals were turned in for moving-related reasons for the first four months of 2008 as compared with 2007; overall, surrenders in Sacramento have increased by 20%.”
Though these statistics vary from community to community across the country, the financial strains caused by top-down banking policies have evidently had unforeseen consequences for pets and the owners who care for them.
While it’s easy to argue that the bank owns the property, thus it is reasonable, legal, and precedented for them to kick the Richardsons out, this callous attitude toward hundreds of animals (and two humans) is yet another example of why animosity toward banking institutions has grown so vitriolic in recent years — especially when banks who contributed to the financial crisis, including Bank of America, received billions of dollars in bailouts funded by taxpayers and continue to receive a free pass from the State.
Meanwhile, the Richardsons are struggling to save the lives of animals they’ve taken care of for years.
“It’s like a dark cloud settling over you, and you cease to be able to function. The animals are relying on me. So I have to be able to keep going forward and staying positive,” Richardson said.
A representative from Bank of America’s New Smyrna Beach branch directed Anti-Media to the correct department for more information, but that department could not be reached for comment. We will update this story should more information become available.
Readers interested in extending help to relocate the hundreds of endangered animals can email Ms. Richarson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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