A Friday Harbor, Washington, woman put out a call to action on Facebook on Saturday, saying she had been fighting cancer for about a year and a half and needed to find a new home for her dogs.
Friday Harbor’s local Q13 Fox reported that Kathleen Zuidema doesn’t have much time.
Zuidema’s cancer began in her lungs, even though she has never been a smoker. She will begin chemo on Thursday for cancer that has spread to her liver and other parts of her body. But even if the treatment works, doctors say, it will only extend her life for a few short months.
The reality of her situation is forcing Zuidema to search for a new home for her three dogs.
“This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.”
The dogs, whom Zuidema refers to as “The Aussie Posse,” are all Australian shepherds, and since the dogs are all bonded to each other, she would like them to stay together.
“Autumn Moon is the oldest. She is 11. Moka Luka is four and a half, and Finnegan is her little brother and he is four.”
Zuidema acknowledges that three adult dogs are a lot for anyone to take on.
“They are a package deal. It is a huge thing to ask of one person but the thought of them being separated is more than l can bear.”
She was hoping not only for a home where they could stay together, but that they would be adopted by someone local on San Juan Island.
“They have always been with me 24/7. So someone who can be with them a lot would be my wish. They are wonderful to be with the love they give and joy that they bring me every day has been unbelievable.”
USA Today said that Zuidema’s post has been shared over 20,000 times. Multiple people have come forward, offering to take the dogs. Zuidema and a friend are carefully combing through the applicants, looking for just the right person.
Zuidema said the number 1 priority is a fenced yard.
“They need to be in a fenced in yard for their safety and freedom to run and play. They entertain themselves romping in short spurts throughout the day.”
The dogs have been her constant companions since they all were pups, she said.
Zuidema is wise to look ahead on behalf of her pets. The Humane Society of the United States says that an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 pets go to shelters each year after their owners die or become incapacitated.
Former shelter volunteer Amy Shever says that many pets go into deep depression upon losing their owners, and that they grieve just like people do. Putting them into a shelter makes the situation overwhelming for them. She said that many pets, “would just curl up in a ball and wouldn’t eat.”
In 2003, Shever founded the nonprofit, 2nd Chance 4 Pets, which offers help for people who want to plan for their pet’s future. Their site lists some facts and figures about pet ownership.
- 68% of all households (approximately 82.5 million homes) own at least one pet.
- 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats live in the United States.
- 87% of pet owners consider their pets to be members of their family.
- Pets can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, lower health care costs, prevent heart disease and help fight depression in their human companions.
- Over 500,000 pets are orphaned each year due to the death or disability of their human companion.
- Pet trusts are now legal in some form in 46 states including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Other alternatives are available in states that do not have pet trust laws.
- You can provide for your pet for the rest of their life should anything happen to you.
Many pet owners believe they will outlive their pets, so they neglect to make provisions for them. In Zuidema’s case, she has provided a very public heads-up to pet owners. It is likely that she will find help with her dogs, but she may not have anticipated how her bravery will help scores of others.
[Image via Sbolotova/Shutterstock]