Pet abandonment is a steadily rising problem across the US. Though most pet owners have been proven to be responsible, every now and again, there are the bad apples that spoil the whole bunch. Unfortunately, a tenant who will abandon a property will also often abandon the pet along with it. Though most states have laws that require you hold on to a tenant’s possessions even if they’ve abandoned the unit- the laws regarding pet abandonment are entirely different.
The first step holds true whether you suspect there’s a pet in the unit or not. You have to be sure that the tenant has actually abandoned the property. Those around might have seen them moving, there may have been notice, there may not have been. If you have legally evicted the tenant- then anything they’ve left behind, including the pet could legally be considered abandoned. You need to check your state’s laws on the subject, but this one usually holds true.
Abandoned pet laws are different from state to state, as are animal neglect laws. However, because an animal isn’t a television, handling this is going to be different because 1. You’re dealing with an animal that has probably been left there, scared and probably hungry and 2. You can’t just put it on the curb like you would a television. (If you can even do that in your state.)
The first thing to bear in mind is you may not know how long that pet has been there- so you need to be careful. Instinctively you might want to immediately care for it, but a stressed, sick or starving animal may not react very well to that. Be careful when you approach, and make sure that you secure the animal and also provide them with food and clean water. If you’re really not sure, contact your local animal control to take care of it. You’re going to need to contact them, anyway, to file a report.
If you cannot get the tenant to claim the pet, or if they surrender it, there are a few things that may happen. If it goes with animal control, there’s a good chance that it will go to the city pound and possibly be euthanized. You can also contact local rescues and other shelters if you’d like to help. It’s important to be sure that you are following all of your state’s laws concerning holding the pet, getting in touch with the owner and also, make sure that any shelter or rescue knows who that is.