The small tan dog scurried through the Indio neighborhood, panting from the desert heat, desperate for shelter.  Larger dogs, coyotes, and the scorching sun were enemies to be avoided.  Her stomach ached from hunger, but she had to keep going.  She sought a secure hiding place to have her babies, and instinctively knew the time was drawing close.  She spotted some dense shrubbery against the side of a stucco home.  The greenery created a snug enclosure, and it might be a source for water that would sooth her parched tongue.  The little dog, pictured here with 2 of her 3 pups, gave birth behind the bushes, and nursed them the best she could with her thin hungry body.  The homeowner called animal control and they picked up the mom and the 2 puppies.  The homeowner was amazed when shortly thereafter her own dog appeared with a third puppy in her mouth, carefully presenting it in a life saving act.  Did the tan dog have a loving home where someone once cared for her?  She can’t tell us, and the owner did not care enough to search the shelters to claim her.   
All four dogs ended up at Indio Animal Control, one of two city operated shelters in the Coachella Valley.  Several other groups of nursing mother dogs and puppies were already there.  Two litters of already weaned older puppies are also at the Indio shelter, a set of boxer mixes and a set of Akita mix dogs.  While they gain some comfort from their siblings, the little animals stare longingly from behind the bars of their kennels, just like you see in the heart wrenching ASPCA television commercial. It is sad to see any animal at a public shelter where it faces an unknown fate.  But it is particularly heartbreaking to see so many homeless puppies without the comfort of a loving home. 
The shelter cannot release a puppy or kitten for adoption until it is at least eight weeks of age.  Can you guess why?  All animals adopted from shelters must be spayed and neutered first in order to get the pet overpopulation problem under control.  Animals must be at least eight weeks old and weigh at least two pounds in order to undergo this surgery.  Puppies and kittens under eight weeks brought in to a public shelter without a nursing mother require around the clock bottle feeding that public shelters cannot accommodate…..unless a foster home is located, kittens and puppies under eight weeks are tragically euthanized. 
One unaltered dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in a six year period!  If you are still not convinced to spay and neuter, consider how it will improve your pet’s health.  Early neutering reduces aggression and indoor “spraying” in male dogs.  About 90% of all dog bites to humans are from intact males.  It is a myth that a female dog should have at least one litter before spaying.  The longer a female dog goes unspayed, there is an increased likelihood of mammary tumors, breast cancer, and uterine infections.  Altered animals make calmer, more affectionate pets.  For low cost spay and neuter, call Save A Pet at (760) 251-1400 or Animal Samaritans at (760) 343-3477.
Looking for a family pet? No time like the present with so many adorable ones waiting in shelters. Think carefully when deciding whether to get a puppy or adult dog.  A lively tiny puppy is enchanting, entertaining and adorable. However, puppies also require additional potty training and require more time. But whether you chose a puppy or an adult dog, at least one obedience class is highly recommended. A well trained dog makes for a happier household and ultimately a happier animal. If you cannot afford a private trainer, both PetCo and PetSmart offer reasonably priced group classes.  Both PetCo and PetSmart have classes to address the special needs of puppies. 
Did you know that at least 30% of the animals in shelters are purebreds?  With so many beautiful pure breed and mixed breed animals in shelters and rescue groups, folks are encouraged to get a pet from them rather than purchasing from a breeder or pet store.  I recently located a gorgeous young pure breed Golden Retriever at the Indio shelter, and the new owner was thrilled.  If you seek a particular breed, you can do your own internet search and find one in a shelter or rescue group on or  Loving All Animals at (760) 776-9397 can help you find the right match.     
Indio Animal Control is located in an industrial section of this East Valley City.  They need more volunteers and foster homes. To get there from the Palm Springs area, take the 10 freeway heading East, take Golf Center exit and turn right, turn left at the first light which is Avenue 45.  Avenue 45 winds around and turns into Van Buren, and the shelter is on the right hand side at 45-355 Van Buren Street, Indio, (760) 391-4135.  They are open 10am to 4pm Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, closed for lunch from 12:30p to 1:45am, and closed on Monday and Tuesday.  There are some gorgeous dogs wagging their tails at the Indio shelter and hoping to become part of your family!


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