By Janet McAfee

There are many animal heroes in the Coachella Valley.  Some are well known, and appear often in the media showing a lovely adoptable dog or cat and promoting their organization’s events.  Others work quietly behind the scenes, rescuing and adopting the homeless, and responding to a myriad of phone calls about animals in distress.

It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of Loving All Animals’ Shelter Services employee, Rachelle Sykes. She passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 17, with her beloved dog Brody sitting loyally by her side.  Rachelle reflected the “heart of rescue”.  She grew up with dogs and understood how much they do for us humans.

The Sykes family moved from Bell Gardens in Los Angeles County to Chino, California, when Rachelle was just a toddler. She played on a girls softball team, and graduated from Chino High School in 1987.  Rachelle began a long career in retail sales, initially in the music industry.  She was promoted to management once employers realized her skills.


Rachelle’s career at All Animals began when she was hired as the store manager at their retail thrift store in Palm Desert.  She was popular with the volunteers at the shop. Rachelle created beautiful displays showcasing the merchandise, and the funds raised helped the homeless animals, including veterinary costs.  Rachelle reflected “the heart of rescue”.  Rachelle checked with our rescue office daily, and posted flyers of LAA’s dogs and cats needing homes at the store.  She networked the animals with shop customers, leading to many happy endings.

At the end of 2018, near the time the thrift store closed, Loving All Animals was gifted the Pet Rescue Center shelter in Coachella.  Rachelle was a natural to work at the Coachella facility, considering her dedication to the agency and its animals.  Dedicated and hard-working, Rachelle worked Sunday through Thursday and every holiday. She had a unique ability to work with and train frightened animals that even most ardent dog lovers don’t possess.  She is pictured here on Brody’s happy adoption day and attending Sandy Miller’s dog training class.

Rachelle was a quiet person, but a great listener.  Responsible and never complaining, she never called in sick or was late to work.  Her home was pristine and beautifully decorated.  She loved to go to movies and concerts with her nieces and friends. She and her niece Monique enjoyed repeating quotes from comedies.  Will Ferrell was one of Rachelle’s favorite comedians.  The entire family had a fun sense of humor, especially Rachelle’s late cousin Ralphie May, an American comedian and actor.

Rachelle loved good old Rock N’ Roll, especially 70’s oldies. Favorite musicians included Sammy Hagar, the Eagles, and Motley Crue. She enjoyed watching Joel Osteen, the “happy” Christian minister.  Family was always #1 in Rachelle’s life.  And for this amazing “dog mom” family included her cherished Brody.

We remember the quiet, hard-working, unassuming young woman who never sought credit for her accomplishments.  In her memory, we animal lovers can do something special for a homeless pet.  Rachelle volunteered at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding on her days off, an organization that provides equine therapy pairing horses with people having mental or physical disabilities.  She rarely talked about her work there with the horses and children.  She worked quietly helping people and animals.

Rachelle was 52 years old.  She is survived by her brother Max Sykes, nieces Brittnei Sykes and Monique Sykes, and many extended family members and friends.   Monique now has her best buddy Brody, telling us, “Rachelle would want him to be with me.”   Loyal little Brody is grieving too, though comforted by the family who know and love him.

Rachelle’s family welcomes you to attend her memorial service on Sunday, April 10, 11:00am, at Forest Lawn, 69855 Ramon Road (on the corner of DaVall), Cathedral City.  Sammy Hagar’s song, “I never said goodbye” will be among the songs at her service

Flowers can be sent to Forest Lawn in Cathedral City.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations can be made to Loving All Animals or Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Rachelle’s memory.