Phoenix is one of the cities hit hardest by the real estate and economic crisis. The many who have lost their homes here can't always bring their animals with them, wherever they are going. Pet owners may be unable to support their animals, financially, and are at risk of surrendering them or abandoning them. Lost Our Home Pet Foundation has come to the rescue. "Our mission is to be a resource for real estate professionals and other members of the community who discover an abandoned pet, and to provide options for pet owners faced with difficult economic circumstances while promoting the spaying and neutering of pets," stated Jodi Polanski, founder of Lost Our Home (LOH) Pet Foundation. The organization was founded in 2008 "as a grassroots response to the thousands of pets in need as a result of the economic downturn in general, and the Phoenix-area foreclosure crisis in particular." Thousands of dogs and cats have been abandoned in yards and homes, surrendered, or underfed. Lost Our Home is the only organization in the Valley of it's kind. Not only do they focus on the animals they rescue from foreclosed homes or after evictions, but on the owners and the human-animal bond, as well.
LOH's programs include:
Food Bank: In these difficult economic times, sometimes even providing food for your pet can seem impossible. LOH understands the trouble pet owners are going through and takes pet food donations to individuals in need of assistance.
Temp Foster Program: Foreclosure or a forced move can prevent people from keeping their pets. The LOH Temporary Foster Program provides care for pets whose owners need to stay somewhere temporarily so that they can be reunited.
Pet Friendly Rental Program: LOH's realtor-volunteers help pet owners find pet-friendly rentals so they can keep their pets when they need to move. 100% of the commission earned (usually $200-$300) is donated to cover pet deposit fees.
Rescue Assistance: If pets are in need of immediate assistance, LOH helps to place pets whose owners are in crises up for adoptions or consider them for other programs.
To keep these programs up and running, LOH relies on the help of incredible volunteers and and donations of money and supplies for their shelter or food bank. The foster volunteers are one of their most valuable resources. The more foster families the organization can rely upon, the more animals they can save.
I asked founder, Jodi Polanski, to tell me about one of her most memorable adoption success stories. Though she had many tales to draw from, one recent adoption, in particular, was very dear to her: Shea.
Shea is a gorgeous male cat who has been through a lot. He was found as a newborn cowering under an oleander bush in Phoenix. Jodi explained, "his eyes and body were infested with fleas, and he was extremely ill. He was so young that he had to be syringe-fed, and it was not certain that his eyes–or life–could be saved."
Shea pulled through, but his chances of being adopted seemed slight. One of his eyes had to be removed, and he had limited vision in the other. "And he is black," said Jodi. "Black cats and dogs are often the last to be adopted and, if they are not adopted, they are often euthanized for space."
Shea beat the odds.
Shea's strong will to survive and loving personality won over everyone around him, and, finally, won over Travis and Michelle, who adopted him two years after he was brought to Lost Our Home. "I dreamt about him after we visited the shelter," said Travis, "so we knew we had to adopt him."
Shea is now happy and healthy, loving life in his new home with Travis and Michelle. But if not for the tireless volunteers, vets, and supporters of LOH, Shea may never have made it out of that oleander bush.
It's about compassion for animals, first and foremost, which is sometimes difficult and contested in such a time and place of economic crisis. When a family is struggling to feed themselves, and survival is the stress they hold every minute of every day, tough choices have to be made. Some families give up satellite TV. Some don't have electricity. Some are so desperate that they surrender or abandon their pets–their family members. Lost Our Home Pet Foundation has recognized a desperate need in our community and has taken action to help furry family members stay with their pack. And when that just isn't possible, they help the animals find new forever homes. The organization is an advocate and miraculous resource for so many animals and people.
LOH needs your help, and there are many ways do donate. Please consider helping. And if you're looking for a new addition to your family, consider pets who, through no fault of their own, are tragic victims of this crisis in our economy. Think about adopting a Lost Our Home pet.
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