Lost Our Home Pet Foundation of the Valley has finally found a home to meet its needs.

The small animal rescue grew out of necessity five and a half years ago when founder Jodi Polanski was working in mortgages and kept hearing from real estate agents about abandoned animals in the homes they were selling.

“I decided to start a little rescue so if my clients found a pet they could send them to me and I’d find them a home and they wouldn’t be abandoned anymore,” Polanski said. “When I started the rescue I didn’t have any idea how big the problem was.”

Lost Our Home began getting calls from not only real estate agents but also neighbors who noticed pets left in empty homes. Other people called to say they were moving and couldn’t take their pets or their homes were being foreclosed on and they were forced to take their pets. Some owners called and said they simply could not afford their pets anymore.

The shelter began offering other programs to help meet the need in an attempt to keep families with their pets. They offer temporary care for families that need up to 90 days to find new housing and a food bank for families that need free food for up to six months to be able to keep their pet.

Eventually, they found a home to hold their animals and storage and a few years into the rescue they got their first official shelter space. That 1,800-square-foot space housed all of the rescue’s administration, food bank and up to 50 dogs and cats until recently.

“Our lease was up and the building was bought by a new company and the new landlord didn’t want to renew the lease,” Polanski said. “We were given a short deadline to get out and we found this place.”

The new shelter, located at 2323 S. Hardy Drive in Tempe, is 8,400 square feet with an additional 2,000-square-foot outdoor play yard. It’s a big change for staff who are used to sharing office space directly with the animals.

“It’s nice to not have to worry about a cat walking across the computer and deleting an entire page,” said Chris Harris, program manager. “That has happened.”

The new space allows for an indoor play room for the dogs; a “Pooch Place” neighborhood of nine rooms, each holding two to five dogs; a “Whisker Row” of nine rooms each holding several adoptable cats; a meet and greet room; and separate kennels for temporary care or low-cost boarding.

Polanski said at any one time the shelter has about 200 pets ready for adoption. A majority of the animals are kept in foster homes. All animals are current on all vaccines, microchipped and spayed or neutered.

Lost Our Home’s new space is open but is still being renovated. All the desks, cabinets and equipment have been donated, Polanski said, and the shelter is depending on volunteers to finish preparing the rooms for the animals. When it’s finished each room will have a theme and the entire space will be inviting for guests to come in and select an animal to take home.

“I want people to come here to adopt,” she said. “We’ve got really great pets and it’s a great environment. When people are adopting from us they’re saving lives.”

Besides adopters the shelter also has a need for consistent volunteers. Kids under 15 years old can volunteer with adult supervision to come in and keep the animals company. Volunteers are needed to help clean, prepare food and give the animals attention.

“We have a very dedicated group of volunteers that scrub this place and scoop litter boxes and do the things that smell terrible and then they come in the next day and do it all over again,” Harris said. “There is no way we would be as successful as we are today without the volunteers that we have.”

The shelter is open for adoptions Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit lostourhome.org or call (602) 445-7387.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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