By Janet McAfee
It was a beautiful weekend on March 4th and 5th for Coachella Valley animals and the humans who love them as Molly’s Miracle provided veterinary services they might not be able to access or afford. This mobile spay and neuter vehicle parked outside the Palm Springs Animal Shelter as well organized volunteers checked in arriving people and pets. Services included veterinary checks, spaying and neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, nail trims, and loving care for the animal patients. These services are VERY low cost. Over the weekend, 189 dogs and cats were spayed and neutered. In some cases, they received life-saving treatments.
Who are the people and organizations behind this programs? How can you get affordable services for your pet at a time when veterinary services are scare? What can you do to help with the crisis of homeless dogs and cats? Our valley seems overrun with stray dogs, and the endless crisis of overpopulated cats is an issue throughout our community.
In 2014, local animal lovers Janeen Hudson Bahr and Belinda Zaparinuk volunteered in Shane’s War (a program to empty shelters and reduce euthanasia nationwide) at our Riverside county Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter. Janeen recalls, “We quickly realized that as fast as the kennels emptied out, they were refilled with more stray animals and others from owners relinquishing. We decided instead of being behind the eight ball once the shelters were overcrowded, we needed to focus on stemming the tide coming in. We also quickly realized a lot of money was required for our plans.”
Society’s Outkasts Animal Rescue (S.O.A.R.) was founded, fueled by a love for animals and utilizing creative solutions. The women understood that it is unproductive to blame shelter staff when an ignorant public carelessly continue to breed more animals and sometimes discard them. We cannot adopt our way out of this situation. They wanted a positive program that addressed the needs of the county shelter animals, stray animals, and provide large scale reasonably priced spay and neuter services to the public.
Janeen continues, “We held our first annual MUTT MARGARITAS fundraiser event in 2014 and raised $5,000. With this success, we funded $3,000 for spay and neuter, and $1800 went towards a freedom flight transporting animals to a region where there are more adopters.” Fast forward to 2021, our event raised $60,000. Now with our own spay/neuter vehicle, Molly’s Miracle, we sterilized 2905 animals.”
Janeen adds, “Our biggest accomplishment was to build and provide Molly’s Miracle, which is now leased to Animal Action League and built to their specifications. This vehicle has the biggest capacity of such vehicles in our area to sterilize large dogs who have the largest litters. Molly travels from Banning to Niland and Borrego Springs to ensure access. We continue to raise funds to pay for these clinics.”
S.O.A.R. also rescues and adopts homeless animals, rescuing litters of abandoned strays in fields as well as some in danger on Craig’s List. Last year they rescued, vetted, and adopted 89 dogs. Pictured below is Mama Cass, a little Papillon mix dog they rescued with her puppies from a horrific site in Whitewater. Mama Cass will be available for adoption after she finishes nursing.
MUTT MARGARITAS is one of the best events in the Coachella Valley. A delicious BBQ dinner with a margarita bar is served on the spacious patio with live entertainment. The highlight is the performance by law enforcement dogs and search and rescue dogs. Funds are raised for bullet proof vests for the dogs. These cost $1700 apiece, and the group has donated 7 of these life-saving vests. I love attending this event and meeting other animal lovers.
Always thinking of new ways to help, Janeen’s group funded a 5,000 foot playground at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter in Thousand Palms. This provides a wonderful outdoor space for the big dogs to exercise, play with each other, become more socialized, and more adoptable.
Janeen is pictured here holding a dog about to enter Molly’s mobile clinic. The collaboration between S.O.A.R., Animal Action League (AAL provides veterinary and other staffing), and the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter made for a successful clinic. An army of volunteers created a welcoming atmosphere. Molly’s services ultimately result in thousands of fewer suffering strays running our streets or tragically crowding into public shelter kennels.
You can find out more about S.O.A.R. on their website www.societysoutkasts.com which lists their schedule, events, and adoptable dogs. Help Molly continue to make more miracles! PLEASE DONATE TO THIS WONDERFUL RESPECTED LOCAL ORGANIZATION! Donate online or mail a check to 74991 Joni Drive #5, Palm Desert, CA 92260. You can designate which program you want to contribute to. Like them on their Facebook page SOCIETY’S OUTKASTS ANIMAL RESCUE. Call (760) 832-0617 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with other questions. Call Animal Action League at (760) 366-1100 to schedule your dog or cat for spay, neuter and vaccine services.
Working together we can do more to make this a No Kill Coachella Valley.