By Janet McAfee
Dana Hobart, Rancho Mirage City Councilmember and three-time mayor, is an avid animal lover and one of the Valley’s biggest proponents for our shelter animals. After taking office 12 years ago, he elected to serve on the Coachella Valley Animal Campus Commission which oversees our Riverside County shelter in Thousand Palms. To encourage more adoptions of rescue animals, Dana created a program that reimburses the citizens of Rancho Mirage for the adoption fee when they adopt a cat or dog from the county shelter. He was also instrumental in the creation and funding of a Rescue Coordinator at the shelter through a public/private partnership when county layoffs eliminated this important life-saving position. Dana paved the way for his city to host Loving All Animals’ Super Pet Adoption Festival.
Dana explains his affinity for these marvelous four legged creatures, “I’ve had dogs all my life. As a kid, I would walk up and down the aisles at the dog pound in Los Angeles and cry when I saw all the animals behind bars in kennels. Now, as an adult, I do the same thing when I walk through our local shelter. I always tell people that if they want a little more love in their life they should get a dog, and of course a rescue dog!”
Dana and his wife Vicki were the proud parents of two rescue dogs, Giaco and Rosie, when they embarked on a new endeavor three years ago to help homeless animals. They began fostering dogs for Loving All Animals rescue program, Mobile Mutts. The program was designed to get dogs out of the public shelters, socialize them in family foster homes, and feature them in public venues where they meet potential adopters. Fostering is usually a temporary situation, and the dog soon gets adopted by its new family. One little Terrier/Poodle dog named Lola had other ideas.
Dana explained what happened when they fostered Lola, “When Loving All Animals contacted us about fostering another dog, Lola joined our two dogs that were living the good life in the Hobart home and yard. The next day we headed to a groomer to get her shined and polished to meet prospective owners. When the car pulled out to the street, Lola began to tremble and was scared stiff. I suppose she was thinking she was heading back to the animal shelter. Suddenly her shaking stopped, and we saw the dog was in an epileptic like seizure. We rushed her to the vet, but by the time we arrived she had pretty much revived. On the return trip home, Vicki said, ‘You know that now we will never find a home for her. Nobody is going to want to adopt a dog with a seizure history’. Vicki was right of course.”
The Hobart’s two dogs, Giaco and Rosie seemed to know that something had shifted during Lola’s trip to the vet. They were waiting for them to return and from that point on welcomed the newcomer as part of their pack and celebrating her return with a game of “chase a dog’s tail”. Without verbalizing it that day, both Hobarts knew that Lola was already “home”.
We know how dogs work miracles in the lives of their humans. Sometimes it seems they also work miracles to orchestrate their own adoption, arranging the timing of events to secure the perfect home. Dana explains how he believed this happened with Lola, “We underestimated this dog’s capacity to understand her environment and her circumstances. She has never had another seizure after that first one, and the vet could find no medical condition that caused it. We concluded the little rascal duped us with a seizure. She saw the house, playmates, and yard and simply decided this would be her forever home one way or another.”
Vicki adds her thoughts about Lola’s adoption, “There was no way we were going to adopt a third dog. We wanted to keep fostering and saving more lives. Then right after coming to us, Lola had a seizure, but the vet explained he did not know the cause and she did not require medication. We were worried this incident would reduce her chances of adoption, and were concerned she needed owners who could provide good vet care. So we adopted her! She earned her way into our lives, but interestingly she hasn’t had a seizure since. She is a wonderful little dog, and loves the other two.”
The Hobart’s became part of a group we lovingly call “foster failures”. About 50 percent of our foster families fall in love with their temporary residents and end up adopting them. Dana encourages other animal lovers to consider fostering, “If you already have one dog, taking in another is not difficult at all. The effort is minimal considering you are already feeding one and taking him for walks. You can make a difference and save lives by becoming a foster parent.”
The Coachella Valley animals are lucky to have this elected official as their advocate, both in his professional and personal life. There is an animal waiting for you now at the local shelter who will work his way into your heart. Contact the county shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms at (760) 343-3644, or view their adoptable dogs online at www.rcdas.org. If you’re not quite ready to adopt, consider fostering a dog sponsored by Loving All Animals, and contact them at (760) 834-7000. The Hobart’s believe that when it comes to animals, “Love will find a way!”