By Janet McAfee

The crowd at the Fantasy Springs Casino special events center in Indio swelled on the mornings of September 22 and 23. People calmly formed lines as more kept arriving. These folks were not concert goers. They were pet owners accompanied by their 4-legged best friends. They were on a mission to help their beloved pets receive very low-cost services to keep them healthy and safe.

Some people carried dainty little Chihuahuas in carriers. Some of the dogs pranced around happily, well behaved, and seemingly unaware of the reason for their outing. Volunteers brought in feral “community” cats in traps, seeking to end the crisis of these rapidly reproducing animals.

Coachella Animal Network (C.A.N.) put together their first spay/neuter veterinary clinic at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio ten years ago. This large comfortable venue can easily house the mobile unit, the many waiting patrons, and information tables. Kim Hardee, C.A.N.’s founder and director, reflects, “When we started ten years ago, we began to make inroads in reducing the population of unwanted animals. However, in 2023 the crisis for animals worsened partly due to the increased cost for and shortage of veterinary care. One ‘lower cost’ clinic gave a client with a female bulldog an estimate of $900 to spay her.”


In 2023, more homeless stray animals battle hunger and disease. Pets are found in abandoned homes due to human housing issues. Boxes of newborn animals are dumped in fields, and some survive when rescued while others succumb to a slow painful death. Our public shelters are overwhelmed and faced with having to euthanize animals when they run out of space. The situation is heartbreaking for the animals, and expensive for the taxpayers.

Many Coachella Valley animal welfare groups worked together at this clinic, bonded by their tireless determination to help our community’s critters. Animal Action League staff and volunteers warmly greeted and organized attendees while their veterinary staff performed surgeries and administered vaccinations. Society’s Outkast Animal Rescue brought Molly’s Miracle, their state-of -the-art mobile veterinary unit. Traveling Paws’ volunteers brought in over a dozen traps containing feral community cats. C.A.N. and Loving All Animals funded clinic expenses, including supplies and the veterinarian’s fee for both days. Fantasy Springs Casino provided lunches and maintenance staff to help set up and tear down.

The two-day clinic spayed and neutered 55 cats and dogs. They vaccinated and microchipped 207 animals. The photo here shows the long line of pet owners awaiting vaccines to help keep their animals healthy. Over 100 free engraved ID tags were given to ensure the safe return of wandering animals. Over 50 pets received free nail trims and ear cleaning compliments of Pawfect Time Grooming.

Kim Hardee, Indio resident and director of C.A.N works tirelessly preparing for these events. She is determined to do something about the problem of homeless animals. Kim had a vision for more VERY LOW COST spay and neuter clinics in our East Valley and refused to take “No” for an answer. Kim is pictured here with her special pup Wifi who utilizes a wheelchair for mobility.

Armando with his German Shepherd reports, “This program is great! I want to thank Fantasy Springs Casino. You can see by the large turnout what a good thing this was for the community.” Nala wagged her tail in agreement, appearing happy and unfazed after her surgery. Spaying dogs like Nala is critical because young large dogs are the major group being euthanized in shelters.

Contact Animal Action League at (760) 366-1100 to find out when there will be a clinic near you. Google them at for upcoming monthly clinic calendars.

Contact Coachella Valley Network at (760) 848-4284 for information or appointments. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to this most worthy charity on their website Consider volunteering or donating to one of the other animal charities participating in this “pawsome” event. Their websites and Facebook pages contain contact information. We cannot adopt our way out of this crisis. Decades ago, the late great Bob Barker admonished us, SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!