By Janet McAfee
Calling all animal lovers! The two adorable Shepherd mix brother pups pictured here are among the 93 homeless dogs and puppies hoping for homes at our Riverside County Shelter in Thousand Palms. The facility also currently houses 49 adorable cats and kittens. When Dick and Harry were brought into the county Coachella Valley Animal Campus on October 7, they were just 13 weeks old. They are now 18 weeks old and weigh 20 pounds, growing up rapidly.
Will they end up growing up here like so many large breed puppies? Large dogs tend to become kennel stressed when confined to small kennels for an extended time, becoming less adoptable and becoming “urgent”. As Dick and Harry grow larger, sadly their adoption prospects diminish.
Many local animal lovers don’t know about our shelter. When they are seeking a new pet they may go to an expensive breeder or get one from a neighbor whose animal recently gave birth. Many animal lovers are unaware of that the overpopulation of puppies and kittens in our region and in many parts of the country has reached a crisis level.
During the pandemic, news stories featured rows of empty shelter kennels as Americans adopted pets to keep them company while working at home. Riverside County statistics show a dramatic increase in shelter intakes during 2023. The majority of these homeless animals are puppies and kittens under the age of 5 months.
The number of phone calls I help answer at Loving All Animals about unwanted animals increases every week. A recent call from a man in Sky Valley was seeking a place for 13 puppies born to his 2-year-old Rottweiler/Great Dane. The man planned to get her spayed but now “this happened”. The next caller desperately reports the vacant home next door has 4 adult cats and 10 kittens in the back yard. How did this happen?
During the pandemic, spaying and neutering was not considered an essential service. Some of our veterinary clinics were closed or on reduced hours due to staff shortages. We already had a shortage of veterinarians and there are long waits for appointments for most services. The increased number of kittens and puppies born during 2020 and 2021 are now giving birth to more animals and there are simply not enough shelters to house them or homes to adopt them.
The second reason for the increase in homeless animals is the housing crisis for humans. Landlords sold many of their rentals during recent years when they could maximize profits. Now they can select between a renter with 3 dogs and 2 cats when other applicants have no pets. Other pet owners losing homes must move in with friends and family who may not be able to accommodate their animals. Increased housing costs for humans means more pets suffering along with their people.
The staff and volunteers at the county shelter work tirelessly with the increased flow of animals coming into their shelter. They now have a lovely outdoor big dog park where the animals can run and enjoy each others company in play groups. Cheryl Honts, their talented volunteer photographer, takes professional photos of many animals to promote their adoption including the ones of Dick and Harry.
What can you do to help our local shelter pets get second chance homes? Tell people about our Coachella Valley Animal Campus, a lovely modern building where they can meet wonderful animals. Print copies of the attached list of local shelters and rescues for friends and family. Like their Facebook page COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS and share some of their beautiful animals. You can see their animals at www.rcdas.org. If you have questions about the animals or want to volunteer call (951) 358-7378.
Visit Dick and Harry at the shelter located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms. They are friendly active brothers who love to play. You can always adopt both and double the love in your home! The shelter is open 10am to 4pm Monday through Saturday. You can ask the staff to take Dick and Harry or any other animal you are interested in to one of their indoor or outdoor visiting areas. This allows you to see their personality and maybe you will get a welcome kiss.
Let’s support our county shelter!