By Janet McAfee

These brilliant dogs bravely searched for survivors on 9/11, protect our military by detecting land mines, and lovingly guard their human families.  German Shepherds are my favorite breed, intelligent and loyal, majestic, and devoted.  My parents adopted a German Shepherd puppy they named Boy at the time I was born, and he later saved my life.  My grandmother fell asleep babysitting and my stroller rolled down into the street. Boy followed and stood guard, resisting animal control’s attempt to capture him until my parents returned home.  When I wandered off as a toddler, Boy brought me back home safely.  This working breed needs a job and Boy’s job was protecting his family.

In 2023 and 2024, German Shepherds entered California’s crowded public shelters in record numbers.  German Shepherds and Huskies are the 2 largest breeds in shelters at a time when Riverside County shelters are struggling with unprecedented overcrowding.  Large size working breed dogs do not do well in kennels.  Over time, they can become stressed, shut down, bark at visitors, and become less adoptable.  When large breed puppies don’t get adopted quickly they grow into larger dogs who are less adoptable in the Coachella Valley.

Several factors created this crisis.  Rising housing costs and evictions are the reason many renters relinquish their pets.  Many landlords sold their rental homes to profit from the increased value of home prices. Remaining landlords can select applicants with no pets over an applicant with 2 large dogs and 2 cats.  During the pandemic spaying and neutering was not considered an essential service and the young animals born then are now giving birth to more kittens and puppies than there are available homes.  The serious veterinary shortage in our region continues to fuel the overpopulation crisis.


Maria Dales, Executive Director of German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, explains, “We are seeing an unprecedented number of purebred German Shepherds and purebred Belgian Malinois in shelters this year and it’s daunting for rescuers.  We attribute this to an increase in backyard breeding during the pandemic, as well as the popularity of a recent movie featuring a Belgian Malinois.  We urge public shelter administrators to enforce existing breeding ordinances to reduce the number of litters being born. WE CANNOT RESCUE OR ADOPT OUR WAY OUT OF PET OVERPOPULATION.”

What can you do to help?  Adopt a German Shepherd from a shelter.  Those over 3 years of age are usually calm and eager to please when inside your home.  Large size dogs are a great protection when criminals seeking to break into your home hear them barking inside. Pictured below are just two of many beautiful adoptable Shepherds at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus (CVAC), our Riverside County shelter in Thousand Palms

If you cannot adopt, consider becoming a life-saving foster parent.  The sponsoring organization covers all costs. To foster for CVAC call their foster supervisor at (951)743-1899  To foster a big dog for Loving All Animals fill out their volunteer application at and call (760)834-7000.  Palm Springs residents can contact their shelter at (760) 416-5718.

If you can’t foster or adopt, volunteer at a shelter that has large dogs.  The CVAC Shelter, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, and the Desert Hot Springs Shelter have many large breeds needing exercise and human contact.

If you are too busy to do any of the above, make a tax-deductible donation to the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, a private nonprofit that also rescues Shepherds from Riverside County. Donate to one of the private local animal organizations on the attached list.

If you can’t afford to donate, network homeless animals on social media including Facebook, Instagram and  LIKE the Facebook page for the Coachella Valley Animal Shelter and others and then SHARE their animals. HELP SAVE A GERMAN SHEPHERD TODAY!

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