A Brookfield couple facing impending eviction from their home are desperately seeking a last-ditch solution, or a saving grace, from the broader community as they try to salvage a living situation for themselves as well as their horses, ducks, chickens, and a scattering of other rescued or geriatric animals.
For months, Bob and Hope Krenick have been slowly counting the days left until they’re evicted from their Ridge Road home after more than a decade of financial challenges that eventually resulted in foreclosure proceedings on their home in early May.
According to legal documents served to the Krenicks, the home, which they had owned since 2006, transferred out of their ownership on May 8, giving the retired Brookfield residents a matter of weeks to vacate the property before being served with a writ of possession— the final document required by financial institutions to force an eviction within about 10 days.
With the deadline expiring on August 24, the Krenicks are scrambling to find new homes for their horses, their chickens, and themselves.
‘A Place for Us’
Having gathered their herd of 10 horses and ponies through decades of emergency adoptions from horse owners that were unable, or unwilling, to manage the care of geriatric equines, the Krenicks now face a role reversal: either find an affordable location to bring their horses— several of whom have been with them for more than 20 years—or divide the aging herd up between several new and unfamiliar homes.
“We’ve been looking,” said Hope Krenick on Wednesday as she ticked off a list of properties she’s considered between shifts earning extra money as a house cleaner.
“I’ve been researching everything. I have looked from here to Florida.”
According to Krenick, the problem rests in finding a suitable rental property capable of supporting aging horses and other animals at a reasonable price. Some local properties are well-suited but unaffordable, others fit the budget but are too rugged or prohibit animals altogether, she said.
“Nobody wants pets anymore and it’s hard to find places that will take horses,” lamented Bob Krenick, who worked as a farrier for nearly two decades before being forced into retirement by a debilitating back injury.
“Hope has been trying desperately on the Internet [and] word of mouth—there’s nothing out there.”
Despite the extraordinary work required to care for aging horses— some of whom have lost all their teeth and are limited to eating only pre-soaked alfalfa and second-cut hay—Hope Krenick believes the herd simply underlines the much larger issue of dwindling housing stock in the Green Mountain State and limited resources for financially-troubled animal owners.
“It’s really upsetting,” she said, noting that few animal shelters accept horses and even fewer are equipped to care for animals older than most Vermont cars.
“When people start to turn that corner to where they can’t take care of their animals or they can’t pay their bills—there is no help! They say there is but there really isn’t.”
With eviction day looming on the horizon some friends and neighbors of the Krenicks, as well as some shelters like the Hooved Animal Sanctuary in Chelsea, have sug- gested the Brookfield couple consider euthanizing the oldest of their animals, a suggestion that Hope refused to consider for otherwise healthy animals.
“Most people are like ‘they’re old! Just euthanize them, put them down.’ I can’t do that. It’s not me. How do you look at a horse and say ‘I’m sorry buddy, it’s time for you to go. You’re not suffering, there’s nothing wrong with you, so we’ll just get rid of you,’” she said. “These horses are like my kids, they’re part of the family.”
As for the actual eviction, Lt. David Eggum—a 19-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department who has served numerous documents, including Writs of Possession— said that one of two things typically happens once a writ has been issued.
The OCSD may either be hired by the property owners to assist in the removal of persons from the property, or the property owner may, on their own, change locks and deny entry onto the property.
“Generally, we’ll give [the occupants] an option,” said Eggum, “because once the property has been rightfully turned over to the plaintiff, we give them an option to either leave the property according to the order of the court or we trespass them from the property,” he said, outlining the practice of legally barring persons from being at the location.
“If they fail to abide by the trespass [order] of the new owners they can be cited into court for a criminal matter,” Eggum said.
Citing roughly eight years of experience serving civil documents, typically at a pace of around 100 per month, Eggum said the emotional tenor of the occasion is rarely lost on him, although he tries to remain professional throughout the process. This was especially true during the foreclosure crisis that unfolded after the 2008 recession.
“These were families with kids and everything else,” he said. “You can’t help to have emotions or feelings as far as what you’re doing. But when I’m out there serving it’s always in a professional manner.”
Eggum was also quick to point out that, despite the high emotions, the vast majority of occupants he’s served with writs of possession have voluntarily left the property.
“I have yet to ever issue a citation to someone for failure to vacate a property,” he said. “I’m not saying that won’t happen in the future, but most parties—because it is the order from the court and we are there to enforce the court—they tend to vacate the property.”
As far as remaining options are concerned, the Krenicks are left with very few. According to Stephanie Brackin, who serves as an information management officer with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, once a court ruling has been filed during foreclosure proceedings, an eviction is nearly inevitable.
“Once the court has made a decision, we don’t have any options for them,” said Brackin, who could not comment on the specifics of the Krenick case. “Without knowing the full details of the case, it’s largely beyond our purview once the court has made its ruling.”
With roughly three weeks remaining at their home, the Krenicks are of two minds about relocating. For Bob’s part, he remains optimistic that a critical piece of the puzzle will fall into place, possibly in the form of a community member offering an unused property, to save the couple from the prospect of sleeping in their vehicles and/or giving up their animals.
“I still have hope that there’s going to be a little divine intervention,” he said. “I think about it all the time. That would make her do backflips off the top of the refrigerator,” he laughed with a nod toward Hope, who remained defiant.
“How do they handle a situation like this? Are they crazy enough to think that they could just come in here and change the lock on the door and tell us to leave?” she asked, speculating on what could happen on eviction day. A mental image of Orange County Sheriff’s deputies attempting to chase down a white thoroughbred on foot sparked a rare moment of glee as she considered her options.
“If I have to go to jail, I’ll go to jail,” she added matter-of-factly. “I might just want to make it like Waco. You know? Don’t cross the gate. I could see myself getting that hysterical. Think about it. This is my life.”
“It should have never come to this situation,” interjected Bob, who reiterated his wish for a new property to materialize from the community.
“I’m not looking for a handout,” he said quietly. “We just need a place for the horses until they pass on and I bury them.”
-- DYLAN KELLEY