By Janet McAfee

In September 2022, the human pandemic was over but the crisis for homeless animals was only beginning. Large size shelter dogs are most overlooked in the Coachella Valley where senior retirees and traveling snowbirds seek out small size pups. Another gorgeous male Husky was brought to our Riverside County shelter in Thousand Palms, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. The “finder” claimed the animal was a stray he found, but I suspect the man was the owner based on the dog’s behavior.

On September 8, 2022, I was on an errand at the county shelter that didn’t involve pulling dogs for Loving All Animals rescue. Walking past the rows of kennels, big dogs peered out through kennel bars seeking human attention. A handsome Siberian Husky’s kennel card had the name “Balto” assigned to the dog inside. Lindi Biggi, founder and former President of Loving All Animals, adopted a Husky named Balto from the shelter several years earlier. It was a curious coincidence. Sadly, there is now a serious shortage of foster homes for large dogs. I mentioned this to Lindi and this amazing animal advocate jumped into action. Lindi asked close friends Silva Mirzoian and Michael Marchi to foster this Balto.

Silva recalls, “As soon as Lindi reached out to us, Michael and I left for the shelter with treats to meet Balto. He was shy and nervous when we arrived sitting on the visiting room floor as if he knew his fate. Then he began to slowly take the treats. We didn’t want to leave without him”. Michael said, “We can’t let him die here! We’re going to foster him.”


The next day dog trainer Jim Turcott and I went to the shelter to officially rescue Balto for Loving All Animals. Jim expressed surprise at the number of Huskies at the facility. The notes in the dog’s file reported “timid and head shy, attempts to do a physical exam were not tolerated, gator rolling on leash”. Huskies are extremely intelligent and Balto probably understands over 1,000 words. All dogs know human intent. His exit from the shelter was calm and he enjoyed the freedom ride in the car back seat with Jim. It was one of those miraculous moments of reward for us “rescue warriors”.

We delivered the 65-pound dog to Silva who was excitedly waiting with Lindi. Jim graciously provided some training sessions to teach commands to the dog they named Bing. Dogs are usually eager to please people and Silva made sure plenty of love was poured over Bing. It was no surprise when the couple fell in love with Bing and decided he would be with them forever.

These days, Bing lives the good life. Silva tells us, “He is so incredibly loving. He wants to sit near us and he talks to us. He gently retrieves a piece of chicken from Michael’s mouth. Though he’s kind and gentle, Bing is protective of us. However, he still is a little fearful of men with sticks like the pool man.” There are plans in the works for Bing to move to Hawaii with the couple when their new home is completed. “It would have been a horrible loss of a beautiful life had this dog been euthanized 2 years ago. He’s brought so much love and joy into our lives.”

In 2023, the big dog crisis became worse with mostly young animals coming into California shelters. With spaying and neutering not considered essential during the pandemic, puppies and kittens born then gave birth to more animals than there are homes for. HOA size restrictions add to the problem.

Shanna Roberts, founder and director of Luna Siberian Husky Rescue, in Joshua Tree, explains, “We have backyard Husky breeders sending out sick dogs to anyone who pays. Profits made during the pandemic fueled the breeders greed and more county effort to regulate them is needed.” Shanna tells us that the double coat of a Husky helps keep them warm in winter and can keep them cool during summers if properly maintained. Like any dog, they should never be kept outside long in our summer heat. Shanna sums it up, “2024 is a Husky crisis. It’s a Shepherd crisis. It’s a year of every dog breed crisis.”

Pictured here are 2 beautiful Huskies at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. Check the website to see animals at all 4 county shelters Go in person to CVAC located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms, open 10am to 4pm Monday through Saturday. Ask to meet a dog you like in a private visiting area and make your adoption decision. Contact their foster director Nancy at (951) 743-1899 to foster.

Loving All Animals urgently needs big dog foster parents. Call or text (760) 834-7000 for more information about fostering. Complete the volunteer application at and indicate you can foster. There are no costs to foster parents as LAA covers all food and veterinary care. You get your first chance to adopt and be a “foster failure” or be part of the dog’s happy meet and greet with someone else.

Huskies need humans who have an active lifestyle. Always do some research before you commit to a Husky or other breed. These loyal loving companions will care for you more than they care for themselves. They have a gentle wolf-like spirit and eyes that pierce your soul. Siberian Huskies have the purest of hearts, and it’s heartbreaking to know how many now don’t make it out alive from shelters. SAVE A HUSKY TODAY!

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