By Janet McAfee

Animal lovers and their 4-legged companions rang in the New Year 2024 with joy and optimism.  However, the number of homeless animals and public shelter intakes swelled in 2023.  Housing problems and the lack of affordable spay and neuter services are two contributing factors.  Animal advocates must do more to help in the coming year.  “Rescue” is becoming the favored route to adopt a pet.  The public is now more aware of the problems including medical issues with adopting from puppy mills, backyard breeders, and online pet sales.  New York joined California and several other states banning the commercial sale of dogs and cats at pet store with the aim of encouraging shelter adoptions.

Daisy pictured here is ready to celebrate the New Year.  This Chihuahua girl was once a stray dog running through a busy Coachella Valley street.  Rescued by Loving All Animals, this happy little pup orchestrated her own adoption.  She is a fixture at Palm Springs venues on outings with Richie and Ido.  The smiling little dog brings joy to strangers.  Richie tells us, “We fell in love immediately with the dog originally called Gidget when she ran to greet us.  When she came home, it was like she was with us forever.”

While our canine and feline companions provide affection and companionship, there is a special love bestowed from rescued animals in their “second chance” home.  These animals will not only bring us increased health and happiness, but they can also be part of our New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s not too late to include some of these ideas to your 2024 resolutions.


GET HEALTHY – Having a dog or cat improves your physical health, including reducing your blood pressure.  If you decide to quit smoking this year, your pet will give you another reason because a smoke-filled environment also jeopardizes their health.

REDUCE STRESS & DEPRESSION – Holding and petting a pet immediately makes you relax.  Their loving companionship reduces stress, depression, and anxiety.  Dogs and horses help reduce post- traumatic stress for combat veterans.  They work daily miracles for all of us humans, bringing joy to our lives as they teach us about unconditional love and living in the moment.

LOSE WEIGHT – Obesity decreases life expectancy of up to 14 years in humans and up to 2.5 years in their animals.  As you select healthier foods, make sure to provide better nutrition for Fido.  Avoid serving harmful human foods to pets.  However, fresh carrots, cooked green beans, steamed broccoli, banana slices, and apple slices are healthy options for you and your dog.

EXERCISE & GET FIT – Walking a dog keeps you both healthy and happy.  If you are athletic, enjoy the outdoors even more hiking and jogging with Fido.

MEET NEW PEOPLE – Dogs are natural ice breakers, and that adorable pup you walk down the street can result in new friends or even a new love interest.  You score extra points with them when they learn your dog is a rescue.

VOLUNTEER IN THE NEW YEAR – If you resolve to help people in the New Year, dogs may also play a role.  If your dog is calm and likes strangers, consider getting him certified as a therapy dog and bring joy to hospital patients and nursing home residents.  Paws and Hearts is a wonderful pet therapy organization you can contact.  Volunteer at a public shelter or private animal welfare organization.  Walk a dog for sick or elderly neighbors.  The local animal shelters listed on the next page would love to have you volunteer or foster.  Open up your heart and home and experience the joy of fostering a sweet dog or cat.

ADOPT A RESCUE PET – The New Year is always the time for new beginnings and second chances.  If you are still “dogless” or seeking to adopt a cat, visit the thousands of animals waiting at shelters and rescue organizations.  You might fall in love with a new best fur friend.

Visit the Coachella Valley’s largest county shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms.  View their adoptable animals at and call (760) 343-3644 for more information.  Contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000 or to see their available animals and receive assistance to locate a rescue dog elsewhere if you seek a certain breed.  Both these organizations need volunteers to help socialize and train their animals.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2024 to you and your 4-legged family members!