Anyone who works in an animal rescue field knows that the current rate of home foreclosures never bodes well for pets. The number of cats and dogs callously left behind skyrockets. And beyond the innate emotional cruelty of the abandonment, some pets are locked in the homes with no food or water, left to starve in the absence of their families.

People who do these things to animals are committing an incredible act of unkindness. If the animals even survive the abandonment, they’re often shelter-bound and frequently euthanized. There are obviously just too many unwanted animals for all such rescues to find homes. If they do make it, the task of caring for them, paying for veterinary care, and giving them new loving homes is left either to diligent and over-worked rescuers, or to people with soft hearts who often already have homes brimming with rescued animals.

Yesterday, Hugh and I attended a bird care class given by our local companion bird rescue group, MickaBoo. If you love birds and have space for a rescued bird in your home, MickaBoo is an incredible resource. Many of their birds have been rescued from death row at shelters. MickaBoo provides foster homes and then, ideally, loving permanent homes. But as with any animal rescue group, they are always overwhelmed and always need space and foster parents for the constant stream of birds that comes in.

Our instructor told us her own personal story of househunting and entering a home with her agent that had a starving cat left behind by previous owners. She told us anecdotes of birds left by thoughtless owners — in their cages, on curbs, waiting for trash pickup. Hugh and I always think we’ve seen it all, heard it all when it comes to animal cruelty cases, but the stories we learned of yesterday added despair to the full load of disappointment we carry so many times.

Dumping Pets Is Illegal in California

It is illegal in the state of California to abandon any animal. The Monterey County SPCA has a brief overview of California laws as they apply to animals and to pet owners. If you or anyone you know is in a desperate situation with respect to a pet, please don’t leave the animal behind. You will be condemning the animal to death, generally by starvation. It is actually more humane to surrender an animal to a shelter, than to leave it behind in the foreclosed home as many have done.

There are resources in the Bay Area (and around the country) you can contact for advice and help. When I wrote for, I compiled a list of Bay Area Animal Shelters. Many shelters have advice on how to find a new place that takes pets, or how to humanely re-home your pet in the case of an emergency.

All of our animals have landed on our doorstep through abandonment or neglect — and on the doorsteps of others we know. And hardly ever has it been a convenient time for us, or financially easy to cover vet bills and other costs when we’ve taken one of these animals into our lives. We do so because we can’t see any other way. There are sentient lives at stake and sometimes, it’s just a no brainer to offer love, a warm bed, and a meal to a lost little soul.

I’m not sure what people think will happen to their animals when they relegate them to the trash. Thank god for groups like MickaBoo and all of the other animal rescues who are there to pick up the pieces for the lucky ones among the lost.