MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
Because of the economic downturn, millions of Americans are losing their homes and in many cases, are being forced to give up their pets for adoption.
NPR's Linton Weeks tells us the story of one Oregon man, and his two dogs, who got caught up in the crisis.
LINTON WEEKS: For the past seven years, Edward Jones has had steady construction work. He poured concrete in Lakeview, Oregon. When the economy turned sour, Jones lost his job. Then he lost his $400-a-month home.
Mr. EDWARD JONES: I couldn't make the rent, you know? Just couldn't do it.
WEEKS: Finally, the landlord tossed Jones out on the street along with his two dogs, Snoopy and Sheba. Snoopy is a 7-year-old lab-shepherd mix, and Sheba is a 5-year-old Blue Heeler mix.
Mr. JONES: I had them since they were little puppies. I walked them every day and, you know, just spend a lot of time with them.
WEEKS: Jones used to play games with Snoopy, like tug of war and fetch with sticks.
Mr. JONES: Sometimes he'd give them back to me, and sometimes he wouldn't.
WEEKS: After being evicted, Jones was offered a subsidized room at a local motel, but the dogs weren't allowed. So with tears in his eyes, Jones put Snoopy and Sheba in the back of his truck, drove down to the local humane society, and gave his dogs up for adoption.
Mr. JONES: Hopefully, they'll find a good home.
WEEKS: The home they found, at least temporarily, was with Martina Keil, director of the all-volunteer Oregon Outback Humane Society.
Ms. MARTINA KEIL (Director, Oregon Outback Humane Society): We wanted to help him the best way we could, which would be taking the animals in and re-homing them. And it was the first time I've actually seen a grown man get teary-eyed. These were part - these were members of his family, and it was pretty heart-wrenching for everyone involved to see him have to give these animals up.
WEEKS: Last year, the Outback Humane Society took in 117 animals. This year, it's on track to take in a lot more, including Snoopy and Sheba. The group gets money from the National Humane Society. It's created a foreclosure pets fund.
The fund helps animal shelters set up food banks, and provide health care and other forms of assistance to pets. That way, the owners can spend their money on housing.
So far, the national organization has given more than $100,000 to 57 humane societies. But in the end, that fund could not help Edward Jones.
Martina Keil says she knows how hard it was for Jones to give up his dogs.
Ms. KEIL: It's like losing a member of the family. It's something I can't imagine having to do. And I empathize with these people. You know, I've lost pets due to natural circumstances, you know, old age and sickness and things like that, but I can't imagine having to give up a member of my family like people are having to now.
WEEKS: So, is there any chance that Edward Jones will ever be reunited with Snoopy and Sheba?
Mr. JONES: I would like to, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Ms. KEIL: I think right now, he's focused on getting his life back in order. And I - his animals - his two dogs will be adopted out prior to that happening.
WEEKS: So while Edward Jones may not know where he'll be living a week or a month from now, there's one thing he does know: Snoopy and Sheba will have a good home.
Linton Weeks, NPR News.
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