Op/Ed by Kate Blake, admin Muttnews
Our mascot Ben is worried about his canine brethren and asked me to write this today.
We have all heard stories about how people are losing their homes all over the country due to poor financial decisions, unemployment and other economic factors that have homeowners being forced to move out of their homes and often into apartments or rentals that do not allow pets. Pets of all kinds are showing up at animal shelters all over the country in record numbers. News reports over the last 6 months from all over the country show this trend to be more than an isolated incidence.
You can watch a variety of videos covering this topic from coast to coast in the Muttnews Dog Video Channel.
What can you do if you are in danger of losing your home or your financial situation has taken a turn and you can no longer take care of your animals?
- Plan– long before the bank comes with court orders start looking for housing that you can afford that will allow you to bring your animals with you when you move. The number one reason people state that they give up their animals is that they can’t find housing that accepts their pets. I have moved all over the country taking my pets with me and I find that rentals are more generous with allowing pets today than ever before. Look into renting homes vs apartments as they often are not any more expensive and you have a better chance of being able to keep your dogs with you. See if you can work with the landlord and break your deposits into some monthly payments to spread them out if you are having trouble making the initial deposits to move in to a new place- or offer to pay a small premium for having your pets that can go toward a carpet cleaning service when you move out. Landlords especially those needing to cover a mortgage may be amenable to this especially if they know you are stable otherwise.
- Be realistic– you most likely will not be able to bring 5 large dogs to an apartment so try to find homes for your animals yourself.
- Be Proactive– Do you have friends or family who can take in your loved ones? Do you have a breed rescue in your area that specializes in your breed of dog or cat for that matter? Contact breed rescues for your purebred dogs and let them know your situation and that you need help. They would much rather hear from you than a shelter and sometimes they can help you find a foster family to take care of your animals for a short period of time if you simply need a few weeks to get yourself situated. Your friends and family may be able to help in this way as well.
- Don’t be shy– ask for help. Is there a friendly neighbor who has always liked your animals? Do you know a fellow dog owner whose dogs your dog gets along with? When you see them tell them what is going on and your worries. Your neighbor will kick themselves if they find out you abandoned your animals or sent them to die and they were not given the chance to help out. There are more people out there with hearts of gold than lumps of coal- you will be surprised what can happen if you reach out- no matter how painful it is. Your pride can take a few lumps- your animal’s life may depend on it. If you don’t have to move- but vet bills and pet food is becoming too great a burden- ask for help.
- Do some research– while you are job hunting, house hunting and looking for a way out- remember your animals and do right by them. Find a local no-kill shelter. When you took on the responsibility of pet ownership it was a lifetime commitment. Don’t fail them! If you have no other choice and must give them up- do it so that they can have a chance to find a new life with a new family.
- DO NOT abandon your animals in an empty house or turn them out on the streets. Most animals die this way. It is cruel and punishable by law under the animal cruelty acts. Don’t give them a death sentence and yourself a criminal record.
- Do not take on any new pets if you are uncertain of your own financial situation.
- Have hope and faith. There are a lot of good people out there willing to help you and your beloved animals. Shelters are full but news organizations are pitching in and getting the word out that there is a need. The public has been responding.
After the move– if you have not been able to keep your animals and have surrendered them to a shelter or managed to find new homes for them yourselves, when you are back on your feet make sure you help out those who helped you.
- Give your friend/relative/neighbor who took your animals in a nice gift certificate to a local pet store to pay for food and supplies. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like that! Can’t afford anything- send them a heartfelt letter of thanks.
- Make a donation to the shelter/ rescue group that took in your pet or helped you find a home for them on your own.
- Take a break – don’t rush out and get a new pet until you are really ready to take care of one. When you do so- go to a shelter. As you know- plenty of animals end up there by no fault of their own.
Do you run a breed rescue or no-kill shelter that can help people facing giving up their pets? Feel free to comment and leave a link to your organization here at Muttnews so that people know where they can turn for help.
One of the best resources online for finding dogs who need homes is Petfinder.com , they are a listing site for shelters and rescues all over the country.
Not all shelters who list with them are no- kill though- so make sure you pick your place for giving up your pets carefully.
If you are adopting- check the county animal shelters which can’t keep animals forever and do have time frames before euthanasia is performed. When we adopted Ben he had been available for two weeks and no one person had asked to see him, if we had not come in when we did he would have had only one more week and then he would have been put to death. I have no idea how Ben ended up at the Maricopa County Animal Control but I am glad we walked in with open hearts and took him home.