By Tracey Essex
We’ve all heard of an SOS. It’s the distress call known worldwide, the same in any language, and always conveying the need for urgent action. This was the premise behind Loving All Animals’ new SOS program – an urgent call to find a way to stop the high euthanasia rate at our Valley’s shelters. SOS is intended to be the program which will spearhead the beginning of the “No Kill Coachella Valley” movement.
Loving All Animals Founder, Lindi Biggi knew that the only way to stop the killing of perfectly healthy homeless animals was to find them a home. Her brainchild became SOS – Seniors Offering Shelter – a unique program which combines senior citizens with homeless animals. Lindi realized that the people with the most amount of time were the many Senior Citizens in our Valley.
“The beauty of this program is that so many seniors have time on their hands and so much love to give. Our SOS program will give them someone to love, when they have the time available to share that love,” said Biggi. The program aims to allow Senior Citizens to foster a dog or cat based on each Senior’s availability. With a one week notice, the fostered dog or cat can be rehomed should a fostering Senior have a commitment or planned trip.
Most senior living centers that won’t allow residents to have pets will allow a short one to two week animal placement. A foster can have an adoptable cat or dog for a brief period of time. Canadian citizens who spend their winters in the beautiful Desert climate can foster, knowing that their commitment is temporary.
To further engage fosters, program coordinator Sue Shepler envisions having events and activities to allow the dogs and the Senior Citizen an opportunity to socialize. “I envision bi-monthly gatherings where fostering Seniors can participate in educational opportunities, and games or social interactions,” said Shepler. Not just a social opportunity for the seniors and pets, this bi-monthly gathering will allow the Seniors to pick up foster care packages which include food, potty pads, and other essential care giving components.
So, now Loving All Animals has a great idea that can truly save lives. How do you go about implementing such a program? Enter Kathy Wade, a Segovia resident and animal advocate. As a septuagenarian, Kathy knows Senior Citizens. To make this program a reality, Kathy has been talking about it to anyone who’ll listen. “I love animals and I know how important they are. I tell all my friends to get a dog,” said Wade.
And, that’s just the message she’s spreading. For those friends who tell Kathy they don’t have time, she now tells them that they only need to commit to a week or two. By providing supplies to feed and care for the dog, along with a flexible schedule, Seniors are enjoying temporary pet ownership, and shelters will hopefully have another tool to begin a successful run at “No Kill”.
To fund this program, Loving All Animals’ long time supporter Patty Newman stepped forward. Research shows that pet companionship provides significant health benefits, and as the Chairperson of the Community Wellness Foundation, Patty Newman suggested her foundation fund this program. “It is the mission of the Community Wellness Foundation to support local organizations that promote wellness in our communities. Certainly, Loving All Animals’ SOS Program fits that mission perfectly,” said Newman. The initial funding for this program came from Community Wellness Foundation, and Loving All Animals is currently awaiting supplies from 1800PetMeds, Nutro and PetCo Foundation.
If you’re interested in supporting the SOS program, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7004. Loving All Animals is a 501(c)(3) Palm Desert based non-profit animal welfare organization. For additional information, visit www.lovingallanimals.org, email to email@example.com, or call (760) 834-7000.