Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Lights are on, but nobody is home.

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
The lights are on, but nobody is home. Chocolate, holding her injured paw up, patiently waits for her family to return, not realizing they never will. A series of disasters left her family and their pets homeless. Foreclosure forced the family out of their home, and they had to leave Chocolate and their other three cats behind.


The following story represents thousands of American families.

Homelessness is epidemic and affecting the dynamics of human and animal families; cats, dogs, fish, birds, and horses.

Four years ago, a house fire killed two of Cindy and Harlan's cats. It was incomprehensible that things could get worse, but they did.

After 30 years working and supporting his family, Harlan lost his job because his workplace closed as a result of the poor economy. Cindy lost her job for health reasons and was denied disability coverage.

House payments became impossible.

This winter, the family survived living in the Pacific Northwest in a small pop-up camper.  Cindy and Harlan are the parents of three grown children, and one son in grade 12 who lives with them.

This family's plight came to my attention the day I saw Chocolate, one of their four beautiful cats, sitting patiently on the front porch of their house holding up an injured left-front paw. She was waiting for her family to let her in, help her injury, and let her rest.

I approached to check her paw and discovered a totally empty home!  Shocked! I phoned Cindy. She explained their dilemma and how they could not take their four cats. Cats by nature wander to hunt and would have become prey to wild animals where the family was staying.

"Every time I returned to feed the cats, they where excited to see me and ran to me mewing.  I fed and cuddled them. I cried when I left, because it was heart wrenching, watching them, watch me leave," Cindy says softly. "Now, our orange cat, Rattiki, who survived the house fire is missing."

Neighbors and I began checking the cat's food/water dishes. Cindy's compassionate Avon lady also helped feed the cats.

One day, I saw the cats' confusion as a real estate agent allowed strangers into their warm home, but they had to remain outside in the cold.

The agent was displeased by the presence of the cats and their food on the porch, explaining how distracting they were to the sale of the house.

I was appalled at the lack of compassion! This was once a home, not just an investment or a real estate deal.  Has the agent considered, "There but for the grace of God go I"?  With the current housing market, the agent may be the next victim of the economy."

"We are blessed with wonderful friends," says Cindy. "But the families who let us camp on their property are in the same boat.  They are losing their homes and farm.

Homelessness is devastating with its multiple losses. Suddenly, terrified, you are in in uncharted territory: Where is safe housing?  Where do you store food? Where do you cook and feed your family? Where do you bathe or go to the bathroom? Can you afford to store your furniture, electronics, antiques, and family photographs, and other important belongings? You grieve your family pets because they are struggling to survive without you.
Tension between married couples escalates. And, when a family member is in need, you have nothing to help them and no home to take them in."

Adding to her worry, the real estate agent kept complaining about the cats. Cindy built a chicken coop for them, where she is camped, as a safe haven from wild predators.

To relinquish family pets to a shelter an appointment is often necessary. Cindy's appointment arrived and her cats were accepted into the crowded shelter.
Someone adopting an adult cat is going to be very lucky!  Cindy's loving cats know all about litter boxes, living with other cats and dogs, having teenagers running through a house, and a grandbaby laughing and squealing.

"I pray for those losing their homes and for their four-legged kids," kind-hearted Cindy adds.

When a neighbor is losing their livelihood or home, offer to help with their animals to ease their burden.

Be alert for hungry and vulnerable pets sitting on the doorsteps of vacated homes; they need your help.
Three years ago: Cindy and her family.
Tips 'n' Tales article on Rattiki and the house fire:

"Don't be embarrassed! As soon as you know you have to move, IMMEDIATELY contact the Humane Society for appointments and information. Currently, shelters are full which creates  waiting lists. Pets are accepted by appointment. Help shelters help your pets by contacting them as soon as you know your situation.
"If you find homes for your pets, great, but if you can't, you still have your appointment as a backup," advises Janetta Overholser, president of the Humane Society of Cottage Grove.

"Our shelter has experienced a significant increase in stories similar to Cindy and Harlan's.  Lack of financial resources, needing to move out of the area, or needing to move into an apartment that doesn't take animals are top reasons for finding new homes for both dogs and cats.  These situations are absolutely devastating for the families losing their pets.

If rental companies opened their rentals to families with pets it would help. This is the major limiting factor for so many people who come seek our help," said Cary Lieberman, Executive Director of Greenhill Humane Society.
Shelters are working hard to house, feed, and locate homes for the pets in their care. Every one  excitedly 'wag their tails' when financial and pet food donations arrive!

Whatever your belief is: Kindly hold Cindy and Harlan's family in your prayers, as well as the other  families and pets in the same boat.

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