BY JANET McAFEE
On September 20, the crowd outside the Humane Society of the Desert in N. Palm Springs cheered when two Rescue Express buses pulled into their driveway. On board were 110 dogs and 35 cats, all from the public shelter in Ruston, Louisiana. These animals, already in the shelter prior to the Hurricane, were transported out to make room for the massive number of animals rendered homeless by this disaster. Each grateful dog happily wagged his tail as it exited a bus, sensing they were now safe and better things were ahead. Each one was welcomed as a hero survivor.
Tragic Hurricane news stories circulated about some dogs left behind tied to trees, helpless to escape the rising waters. National organizations such as Best Friends participated on the ground in the rescue of frightened animals, some inside homes struggling in rising waters with others found wandering on higher ground. With homes destroyed, more animals “flooded” local shelters creating an emergency situation. With no space left in animal or human shelters, moving animals to other areas became necessary.
Thirty-three dogs on this Rescue Express venture remained in the Coachella Valley. Sixteen dogs went to the Humane Society of the Desert, a private 9-acre facility in North Palm Springs, www.orphanpet.com (760)329-0203. Animal Samaritans was on site and took custody of six dogs, www.animalsamaritans.org (760) 343-3477. Others went to Living Free in Idyllwild, www.living-free.org (951)659-4687. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter provided shelter for the remaining dogs at www.psanimalshelter.org (760) 416-5718. More dogs and the cats continued on to safety in San Diego.
Veterinarian Dr. Rachel Reedy from the Animal Hospital of Desert Hot Springs was on hand to examine the new arrivals. All the dogs will receive excellent vet care, vaccinations, and of course spay & neutering. Shelter dogs often receive little or no prior vet care, and some will need surgeries and extensive treatment for various conditions.
Malinda Bustos, President of the Humane Society of the Desert, who coordinated much of this effort states, “It was an amazing day in collaboration with several other animal organizations in the Coachella Valley to provide safety for these special dogs. Sixteen are currently residing at the Humane Society of the Desert. It has been a heartwarming experience to see these dogs flourish in their new environment. All now await their forever home.”
Pictured here is Woody, a Mountain Cur dog. Woody is an amazing dog who survived 6 months in the Louisiana woods after being abandoned. Captured by animal control, Woody ended up at the shelter where no one adopted him. Woody’s back luck ended when he was selected for Rescue Express and a new life in California. This boy now waits for a wonderful home at the Humane Society of the Desert. He is so grateful for this second chance, the good meals, and the human attention he receives. To volunteer at the Humane Society call (760) 329-0203.
Loving All Animals (www.lovingallanimals.org) has partnered with the Humane Society of the Desert to provide supplies and adoption assistance. They created a designated donation account to generate funds for the extensive care these 33 shelter animals require, including vetting. To donate to this fund, go to www.lovingallanimals.org (760-834-7000) and designate the reason for your donation “Hurricane animals”. You also have the option of donating directly to any of the wonderful nonprofit organizations involved.
Supplies are also needed, and may be dropped off at Loving All Animals in Palm Desert or the Humane Society of the Desert in North Palm Springs. Items needed include Karonda beds, large dog jackets, dog shampoo, gallon size bleach, large fleece blankets, dog treats (none from China!), medium and heavy 100-ft garden hoses, and medium and large size dog harnesses.
Michael Russell, Executive Director of Loving All Animals, explains the importance of helping these animals, “Our community is working together for the good of all animals. One day we might have a 9.0 earthquake in the Coachella Valley. If that happens, we will need other communities to come forward and provide housing and care for our animals.”
Let’s pull together Coachella Valley and take care of these innocent 4-legged Hurricane victims. The media attention of the Hurricane animals brings in new “rescue warriors,” new resources, and new programs. Animal advocate and news anchor Bianca Rae coordinated news coverage. Once this crisis subsides, local animal welfare organizations will be reinforced with more volunteers and public awareness to reach our goal of making the Coachella Valley a No-Kill region. Our ultimate goal: Save Them All!