As a Realtor, Lyn Gorka has seen first hand how pet abandonment is on the rise, with pets left behind in homes that owners leave due to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.
For Gorka, the story of Phantom, the Hudson dog found dead in an apartment last year, serves as an example how tragedy could be prevented.
The dog was left behind when the apartment's owners left and was locked inside. The pet's body was found after neighbors complained about an odor coming from the vacant apartment.
"I've been fighting on this for eight months," said Gorka, "Every corner I've turned, nobody wants to hear it. Nobody has wanted to do anything, but I'm not going to stop."
This week, Gorka set up an online petition hoping to bring fresh attention to the case. The petition, which went live Wednesday night, had gained more than 200 signatures within 24 hours and by Friday morning, had more than 330 signees.
Gorka hopes to take the petition to the MSPCA and the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone. Leone's office and the Hudson Police Department ruled there was not enough evidence to charge the pet's owner with abandonment.
"As far as I know the law, ignorance is no excuse," Gorka said. "The police know who owned the dog and they know they deliberately left him behind. They said there was a communication gap, but the dog just went through torture. He ripped the woodwork and broke the toilet seat trying to get water."
Gorka would like to see law changes as well, including a mechanism to ensure that homes taken by banks in foreclosure situations are inspected immediately after they are vacated to ensure there are no pets left behind.
"Everyone that hears the story of this dog cries and asks why the people responsible could not be charged and found guilty," Gorka said."I am asking the same question."