By Janet McAfee

Our 4-legged friends now have a wonderful new place to care for them when they need medical care. Save-A-Pet animal shelter in Desert Hot Springs opens the doors this week to a new full service animal hospital. The small medical clinic once housed at the shelter has relocated into a beautiful 4,000 square foot building on the main street of town at 13700 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs.

Now called the Animal Hospital of Desert Hot Springs, the facility is one of two low-cost veterinary hospitals serving the Coachella Valley. They offer low-cost spay and neutering, in addition to low-cost shot clinics on Wednesday and Saturday.

Hospital manager, Skip Swanlund, gave us a guided tour. The lovely modern building houses three exam rooms, surgery suite, a large treatment area, an isolation room, and kennel areas. Services offered include general and dental surgery, kitten and puppy services, digital x-ray, and general check- ups. Open to the public, the hospital also provides medical services for the animals awaiting adoption at the Save-A-Pet shelter.

At the pre-opening event, I spotted Executive Director, Ann Woods, bottle feeding four tiny 2-day-old kittens that were dropped off at the shelter after their mother cat died. Woods works tirelessly, and saving these tiny babies will require feeding every 3 hours. This type of loving care goes on at Save-A-Pet every day.

Save-A-Pet is the home to many medical miracles. The tiny terrier pictured here named Helga arrived at their clinic with horrendous wounds, near death after being attacked by 2 larger dogs. The owners had no money, and signed the dog over to Save-A-Pet. Dr. Anderson completed several surgeries, and the terrier made a miraculous recovery. With a bigger facility, there will be more miracles and more lives saved.

The Animal Hospital of Desert Hot Springs is a partnership between the old Save-A-Pet clinic with Dr. Kip Madsen, the only private practice veterinarian in that city. Dr. Madsen is enthusiastic about this new venture commenting, “I’ve practiced here in Desert Hot Springs for 25 years, but I couldn’t have a facility with state of the art equipment like this on my own. To be invited by Save-A-Pet to partner in a project like this is a dream come true. This animal hospital is a good thing for the entire Coachella Valley community.” Veterinarian Dr. Susan Anderson, Save-A-Pet’s medical director, will join Dr. Madsen in providing services six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

Here is a bit of history about Save-A-Pet. In 1983, Mary Sydnes, animal lover and philanthropist, rescued two dogs from the street and decided to start a “no kill” animal shelter. She bought a piece of land in Desert Hot Springs, and founded Save-A-Pet. During the past 30 years, Save-A-Pet has rescued thousands of animals in danger from euthanasia in public shelters. They took in dozens of dogs who were airlifted out of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. They have helped thousands of homeless animals with socialization, medical care, food, and eventually placed them in loving homes. The shelter is now home to over 125 dogs and cats waiting for their “furever” homes.

Now another woman also named Mary helped create this latest venture for Save-A-Pet. Mary Kahn passed away recently, leaving her entire estate to help the animals at Save-A-Pet. Her generous gift made the new hospital a reality, and Mary’s name is inscribed over the entry. The pet hospital helps sustain the shelter, provides full care for the shelter’s animals, and offers affordable veterinary services to the public.

Save-A-Pet receives no public funding, and relies on donations from the public. You can mail a check to this worthy nonprofit organization at P.O. Box 602, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240. You can donate online to Pay Pal on their website The shelter, located at 67-600 18th Avenue in Desert Hot Springs is open 7 days a week for pet adoptions from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. You can contact them at (760) 329-8510.

You are invited to the Grand Opening of this new pet hospital on Saturday, October 5, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. There will be tours, refreshments, raffle prizes, and the opportunity to meet the staff. To schedule an appointment at Animal Hospital of Desert Hot Springs, call (760) 251-1400. This new resource will help our precious pets stay happy and healthy.