Jodi Polanski has lived in Scottsdale for 21 years. Fifteen years ago, she founded Lost Our Home Pet Rescue 15 years ago during the foreclosure crisis. At a time when even large businesses were closing, she built and grew a grassroots nonprofit, which today serves over 28,000 pets. Her innovative 90-day Temporary Care Program was one of the first in the nation and is still one of the largest. Polanski and Lost Our Home have become industry leaders, providing help for people and pets in crisis in situations such as housing loss, domestic violence, homelessness, and hospitalization.

We spoke with her about animals in need, the story that touched her the most,

Tell us about Lost Our Home Pet Rescue …

Lost Our Home (LOH) provides comprehensive solutions to permanent and temporary displacement, pet abandonment, and hunger by helping both pets and their families, especially during times of domestic violence, eviction, homelessness, illness, etc. As a no-kill shelter with programs linked to preserving the human-animal bond whenever possible, LOH takes a proactive approach to keep pets out of overcrowded shelters, and instead, with the families that love them. No one should have to choose between staying in an unhealthy or dangerous situation or losing their pets forever. LOH has a shelter in Tempe that houses up to 160 dogs and cats. Between the shelter and fosters, they care for an average of 270 pets at any given time.

What inspired you to launch it?

In 2008, I was a local mortgage banker who saw firsthand the devasting effects of the housing market crash. I was volunteering at a pet rescue at the time and kept hearing stories from realtors about pets they were finding abandoned in foreclosed homes. Families were losing their homes, and pets were losing their families, their homes, and their lives. I started Lost Our Home as a direct, grassroots response to help pets and pet parents in need.

Is there a story that has touched you the most?

I’ll never forget a pit bull we rescued named Sweetheart. It was in 2008, and she had been abandoned in a backyard in Maricopa for over a month without food or water. Neighbors came and went to steal from the home, but no one helped her. Finally, one neighbor called the police to help. Sweetheart was emaciated and infested with tens of thousands of tics. She was so dehydrated that when she kissed the officer to thank him, her tongue was completely dry. The officer brought her to our vet so she could get great 24-hour care. She was anemic because of so much blood loss from all the tics, and her organs were extremely damaged from the lack of food and water. I’ll never forget that even though she was so neglected and hurt by so many people, she used whatever energy she could muster up from her lifeless body to show gratitude and love to everyone she met. In the end we were too late though. After a week of intense care, she still lost her battle and passed.

How can people help?

Because we help both people and pets in crisis, when the economy is tough for people, people need more help, and we are much busier. At the same time, a tough economy lowers the number of people who can donate.  This means right now when people need us the most, we have the least amount of support. Donating is the best way to help right now; second is fostering large dogs. These ways of helping truly save lives more than people know.

Do you have any of your own pets?

Of course! I have an 11-year-old dog named Peanut, a 15-year-old cat named Little Mr., and I’m fostering a 13-year-old hospice dog named Sammy. We consider him one of ours because his mom may not be able to take him back and he will always have a place in my family. We also foster kittens a lot, which definitely mixes up the energy and fun in the house.

What do you love about living in Scottsdale?

I love how well-kept the city is and that buildings are not on top of each other. I love seeing mountains when I drive and how there is always something to do. Everything I need is close by. Mostly I love being close to family and friends, and the majority of them live in Scottsdale.

Any favorite locations in Scottsdale?

We love Grassroots, a wonderful locally owned restaurant in Scottsdale.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you …

I’ve been a huge pet lover my entire life. I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for 39 years because of my love for pets. Even at 5 years old, I would dress up my cat in doll dresses and push her around in the doll stroller because pets were always the kind of kids I wanted.