By Janet McAfee
The senior pit bull was one of many stray animals who entered the San Bernardino City Animal Shelter on the 4th of July. That holiday is the worst day of the year at shelters, when these already overwhelmed public facilities are overrun. The dog walked with a limp, was covered with ticks, and had numerous other medical problems. He laid quietly in his kennel, showing no response to the shelter staff. The dog’s chances of exiting the shelter alive were very grim.
Lisa Fein Blodgett grew up loving dogs, getting her first puppy when she was 7 years old. She recalls, “I treated Rolly like he was my baby. He had birthday parties, and he sat at our family dining room table.” Like most animal lovers, Lisa knew little about the plight of homeless dogs who ended up in shelters.
The experience of finding a stray black dog near her Palm Desert gym was the beginning of Lisa’s journey to becoming a passionate animal advocate. She took the dog home and ran an ad in the Desert Sun newspaper attempting to find his owner. Despite her diligence, no owner came forward and she eventually found the dog a new home. In the process of rehoming the black dog, Lisa met and befriended local animal rescuers who were actively involved in the “No Kill” movement to save the many thousands of homeless animals being euthanized in our community public shelters. Many of them were young and healthy animals whose only crime was being homeless.
Committed to making a difference for homeless dogs, Lisa adopted her first pit bull named Diesel from the Humane Society of The Coachella Valley, a no-kill private shelter. While learning more about the breed, she discovered that pit bulls are the number one breed to enter shelters, and tragically the largest group of dogs to be euthanized. Lisa’s beloved Diesel passed away on August 24, 2019, at the age of 14.
Lisa explains, “There is so much suffering for animals, I decided to adopt a dog no one else wants. I want these animals to have a chance. I go directly to the shelters to help those most in need. During the quarantine, I had to make an appointment to get Teddy, and arrange vet appointments as soon as possible after he came home.”
On July 16, 2020, Teddy quietly rode home on his “freedom ride”. It was a miracle homecoming for a dog that never before enjoyed a healthy meal, slept in a warm bed, or received a loving stroke from a human hand. It is estimated that Teddy is 12 years old, and Lisa is determined his remaining years will be filled with as much comfort, happiness, and love as possible.
Lois Chisholm describes Teddy’s journey on Facebook, “They know. They know the moment a kind and compassionate human places them in their car and whispers kindly in their ear ‘You’re safe now’ that all the years of neglect, abuse and total disregard for their lives are completely erased by one single act of love……He lay in his kennel, so tired and defeated. He had an eye infection, ticks on his body, and God knows what else. Teddy watched as the few visitors who came to the shelter walked past his kennel in search of a younger ‘cuter’ dog. He was waiting for someone special, and that person arrived in the nick of time.”
Lisa posted this Facebook update on July 18, “A new day for Teddy. He went back to the vet this morning for more extensive x-rays to see his spleen. He got a surprise, a good report! His blood work is good! No definite signs of cancer. His spine is fused and not much can be done there. His elbows are very bad, extensive arthritis, and painful. He may have foxtails inside his ears. But the best news is he is a candidate for surgery and anesthesia. The first thing he needs is a good dental. He has severely infected gums causing him a lot of pain and discomfort. He is getting two pain management medications as well as his eye ointment and he loves me cleaning his eyes with a warm washcloth. A new bed was in order, and he got that today too. He likes to lift his leg on everything, and that is not going to happen here. So, he is wearing a belly band when loose in the house. He is exploring the house and his favorite room is….the kitchen!”
On August 3, Lisa reported on Facebook, “This guy has made a major mark on me in the best way. He has more than 10 pills between pain management and antibiotics, four different eye drops in each eye several times a day. It is more than a lot of work, but I can’t imagine doing anything else while watching him suffer in the shelter and ultimately being killed.”
When Teddy first arrived home, he was indifferent to humans and indifferent to Lisa’s other dogs. Today he follows Lisa everywhere, giving grateful love and bringing more joy to her life. His favorite spot is still the kitchen where he signals to his special cabinet. All dogs enrich our lives with their loving devotion, but there are rewards beyond that when you adopt a dog who needs you the most.
The shelters remain closed for walk-ins. Call for an appointment to meet/adopt. You can view most of their animals online in advance of calling.
COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – This county shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. You can view the animals at all 4 Riverside county shelters at www.rcdas.org, and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Email them with the animal’s ID number at email@example.com and call (760) 343-3644. Located at 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms. (Public)
PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. They schedule appointments Wednesday through Monday, closed on Tuesday. View their animals online at www.psanimalsshelter.org, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Public)
ANIMAL SAMARITANS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. View their animals at www.animalsamaritans.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to foster. Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918. (Private)
CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert. View their animals at www.californiapawsrescue.com, (760) 656-8833. (Private)
HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt a dog or cat. View their animals at www.orphanpet.com. Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203. (Private)
KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed so call for an appointment to adopt a cat. Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, www.kittylandrescue.org, (760) 251-2700. (Private)
FOREVER MEOW – Foster based rescue for cats located in Rancho Mirage. Contact them at www.ForeverMeow.org, call (760) 335-6767. (Private)
PRETTY GOOD CAT – Foster based rescue for cats located in La Quinta. Contact them at www.prettygoodcat.com,call (760) 660-3414 (Private)
LOVING ALL ANIMALS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000. (Private)
MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree, www.mbhumanesociety.com, call between 11am-4pm for updates (760) 366-3786 (Private)
CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – Shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Call (909) 386-9280 daily between 9am & 5pm. View animals at www.sbcounty.gov/acc and get the ID number of animal you want to meet. Located at 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).
DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area. Contact them through website www.DreamTeamangelsrescue.com, (360) 688-8884. (Private)