By Janet McAfee

Understanding the important relationship people have with their animals, a group of Coachella Valley charities are working together to help our most vulnerable residents and their pets.  Working together, they can expand efforts at a time when they are greatly needed.

Mike Russell, Executive Director with Loving All Animals, elaborates, “Many have asked how they can help the animals during this time.  With all the uncertainty we are facing, we hope to have certainty that our valley’s animals have food.  We are asking for donations of dog and cat food to help provide a safety net for the animals residing in our valley’s most vulnerable households.   We have partnered with several organizations to distribute food through our local food pantries and non-profits.  We have been able to partner with Well in the Desert, Food Now, Martha’s Village and Kitchen, Humane Society of Coachella Valley, Palm Springs Animal Shelter and others to make this possible.”

Dana Johnson, Executive Director of Food Now, reports, “We surveyed our clients and discovered that 30% of them are pet owners.  We were concerned that our clients were sharing their food with their pets.  We partnered with Loving All Animals and the Palm Springs Animal Shelter to obtain donated pet food.  We now provide over 200 pounds of pet food weekly to people in need.  This allows the people to get enough food and their 4-legged family members obtain food that is appropriate for them.”  This wonderful charity has distributed food to local residents for many years, and has expanded efforts via their Companion Pet Feeding Program.

The Humane Society of the Coachella Valley, a large private animal shelter in North Palm Springs, is a major player in the effort to help homeless animals.  HSOCV Board President Kim Hardee reports, “In April, we worked with Loving All Animals on a large pet food drive collecting enough pet food to assist other animal groups.  HSOCV delivered a pallet of pet food to the nearby Indian reservation, and we also provide many homeless people with pet food.  We don’t want to see anyone’s dogs or cats going hungry.”

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George Nasci-Sinatra, Major Gift Officer with Martha’s Village and Kitchen, described to me the many sheltering services this renowned organization provides to homeless and other folks in need.  The organization operates a food pantry that is open daily for several hours providing nutritional food to people.  George adds, “Our food pantry now provides pet food to people in need of incremental food.  We want to ensure that our people get enough food and our pets get the right nutrition.”

Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter have operated a wonderful Pet Food Bank since 2015.  This pet food program assists our most vulnerable residents via the local senior centers and Meals on Wheels.  They understand how animals provide joy in our lives through their loving companionship, particularly during times of stressed and isolation.

Precious pup Scooter, pictured here, waits happily in line with his human dad Rick in their car outside Food Now in Desert Hot Springs.  Scooter loves car rides, especially when they involve food.  Scooter tells his story:

“My name is Scooter. I’m four years old and I live with Rick. He takes real good care of me. Last year the family I was living with left me. I was devastated. I was picked up and brought to a shelter. A lot of people would come by and would be nice and say hi. But they would always leave. I started to think no one would ever take me home. Then Rick came. We hit it off from the beginning. Today we go everywhere together. One of the highlights of our week is when we go to Food Now. They are awesome. Rick picks up a week’s worth of healthy food. He can’t believe how nice the distribution is. Food Now partners with Loving All Animals and Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter to make sure I get food too. Rick told me that Food Now wants to make sure no one in our community goes hungry. And that goes for the four-legged friends as well. Thank you Food Now for all you do!”

Would you like to help?  These organizations all need volunteers and donations.  Check out their websites, and call to find out what they need.

FOOD NOW – www.thefamilyservicesofthedesert.org, (760) 329-4100

FRIENDS OF THE PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – www.psanimalshelter.org, (760) 416-5718

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – www.orphanpet.com, (760) 329-0203

LOVING ALL ANIMALS – www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000

MARTHA’S VILLAGE & KITCHEN – www.marthasvillage.org, (760) 347-4741+

WELL IN THE DESERT – www.wellinthedesert.org, (760) 285-7297