California Dogs Abandoned After Foreclosures

California Dogs Abandoned After Foreclosures

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Photo: The homeless cocker spaniel photographed, not the usual street mutt, is among the new pack of  pure-breds abandoned due to the foreclosure crisis in Coachella, Calif. (Photo: Santos J. Reyes, Coachella Unincorporated)

COACHELLA, Calif. – Dogs may be man’s best friend, but that’s not the case for innumerable canines whose owners have lost their homes to foreclosure and had to move into apartments.

With an increase of abandoned pets and an influx of pets at animal shelters, though, some abandoned dogs in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley are finding they are one woman’s best friends.

Christine Madruga, director of the Pet Rescue Center in Coachella, is finding homes and a brighter future for homeless pets. She explained that dogs are being abandoned now more than ever – with many often ending up tied to the trees outside her non-profit rescue shelter.

To date, Madruga and her band of loyal volunteers have rescued and placed over 12,000 animals in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where the center has operated since 1998.

Aiming to save as many dogs as possible, Madruga goes to the animal shelter in Indio on days when she knows many will be euthanized and tries to bring home as many as she can.

“I want to make a difference, that’s why I started going to the Indio shelter and taking in the animals doomed for the needle,” Madruga said. “I just got so tired of hearing about all the dogs that were being put down at the dog pound.”

Madruga’s love for animals began when she was only 17 and began volunteering at an animal shelter in Thousand Palms. Her commitment to saving animals has never wavered.

86 Dogs on Her Doorstep

Describing her doorstep as a dumping ground for unwelcome dogs, Madruga said dogs have been tied to her front gate, cats have been abandoned in boxes during the hot summer months, and countless animals have been tossed over her fence.

“This year alone, I have had 86 dogs dropped off at my doorstep because of home foreclosure,” she says. “That’s more than double from the 36 I received last year.”

The housing slump, Madruga noted, has forced many individuals to downgrade to apartments and caused a sharp increase in animals being abandoned because most rentals do not allow pets.

These abandoned pets are not your average mixed-breed mutts, often seen digging through alley dumpsters. Madruga said many former homeowners have been forced to give up their purebred dogs because they cannot afford to take their pets with them.

Like many other nonprofits, though, Madruga’s organization is facing financial hardships. The Pet Rescue Center relies solely on declining donations and two yearly fundraisers to care for her furry friends. This year she said the center will be lucky to have 150 guests attend its yearly fall fundraiser, down from 250 people only a year ago.

“Some days it’s hard for me, some days I hate the human race for what they have done to these innocent creatures,” she stated. “I’d live in the back of my pickup truck before giving up any of my pets. You can ask my husband.”

The Pet Rescue Center is located at 83-496 Ave. 51, Coachella, Calif. For more information, contact Christine Madruga, (760) 398-7772 or e-mail