I have some first hand experience. A year after Maggie died, my husband and I adopted Chloe, an 11-year-old golden retriever from Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. Her family of 11 years moved to Peru. It was Chloe who taught me the deep grief a dog experiences when they are abandoned, for whatever reason, by the people they so love and are bonded to. I know people sometimes feel they don't have a choice, so when I speak of abandonment my intention is not to make the people wrong or judge them. Most of them, too, are heartbroken. I am speaking purely from the dog/cat/animal's emotional point of view here.
As for Chloe, the grief was literally written all over her face. The woman who fostered her commented, "I have fostered Goldens for years, and this is the first time I have had one cry the entire night after her person dropped her off." You see, Chloe knew she'd been left behind forever by her loved ones. She was an incredibly sensitive girl, and her heart was absolutely broken. We were lucky to see her grief stricken eyes begin to smile over time as she delighted in the active and stimulating life we offered her. Although she loved us dearly during the 3 1/2 years she graced our lives, I know she never forgot her original people.
My second experience with animals being separated from their people and families was when I traveled to Mississippi and worked in a makeshift animal shelter after Hurricane Katrina. I worked with the dogs, and after all that they'd been through, their stress level was high. But it was bigger than the trauma of living through the hurricane and its aftermath. I can remember one in particular, a black lab mix who I brought into my lap outside to hold and comfort. But the entire time I held her, she was not really with me. Her eyes looked far beyond me and were searching, and I knew she was looking for her people. My heart ached for her.
So when I began hearing about the many animals being given up to shelters in the wake of all the foreclosures, I felt desperate as I considered their uncertain fate in being added to the already overcrowded shelter populations. I thought there must be some way for our country to deal with this so that people would not have to give up their animals forever, that they could be reunited at some point and have both animal and human spared the painful grief of losing each other.
Well, Scott Lanz clearly felt the same way and created www.foreclosurepets.org. According to Scott,"the goal of www.foreclosurepets.org is to provide a FREE SERVICE where current homeowners can establish an account where they will be able to post their pet’s information, including photos, description, and contact information in order to find them a temporary home or a new family. We also encourage other rescue groups/non profits/and even agents to post animals they have or may find in foreclosure homes on our site."
The mission of www.foreclosurepets.org is to help any homeowner facing foreclosure in the United States "to find a new home and/or temporary adoption for their pets until they can get back on their feet." According to Scott Lanz, there are over 1.6 million foreclosures and with the current economy there will be more in the near future. Even worse than taking their faithful pets to a shelter, many are being left behind by homeowners to fend for themselves. This is resulting in animals starving and dying. Please don't do this to your animals. They can't survive on their own, and they suffer horribly when they are abandoned this way. They deserve so much better treatment.
Foreclosure Pets also has a lost/found section for animals on their site. So if you find a pet or lose your own, you can post the information on their website. If you or someone you know are in danger of losing their home, please have them visit www.foreclosurepets.org to give their pet a chance to find a loving home.
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life