By Janet McAfee
Shane’s War is heading out to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus the week of May 19 through May 24. This public shelter, operated by Riverside County Department of Animal Services, is tucked away on the north side of the 10 freeway in an industrial section of Thousand Palms with little traffic. The facility houses stray and unwanted cats and dogs from every city in our Valley (except for Palm Springs which has its own shelter). Shane’s War, inspired by a beautiful abused dog named Hope, is an effort to place a spotlight on all the wonderful rescue animals needing homes. This is your chance to meet other animal lovers, and visit with the terrific animals at YOUR county shelter.
What is a Shane’s War PARDON? It is a week-long adoption event hosted by Shane and Janet Smith for a public shelter, the media, local politicians, animal welfare organizations, and local citizens to put aside all their differences and unite to help the animals. The director of the municipal shelter signs an agreement that no animal will be euthanized during that time. The word PARDON is used not to imply the animals did anything wrong. Their only “crime” is that they do not have a home. The pardon saves those who would have been euthanized during that week, gives them more exposure, and the opportunity to be adopted by a private party or rescued by an animal welfare organization.
How did this couple get started with the shelter pardon effort? Shane Smith is a guitarist for St. Citra Chamber rock n’ roll band. Janet Smith volunteered for a rescue group in Macon, Georgia where the couple resides. One day they spotted an emaciated dog with a wire wrapped around her neck sitting at the back of her kennel at a shelter. They did everything possible to save Hope, and she had 19 days of loving care before she succumbed to her injuries. The person who abused her was prosecuted. Shane and Janet always loved animals, but experiencing Hope’s forgiving and sweet spirit, changed their lives forever.
Shane and Janet went to another shelter to get another rescue dog. They were shocked to see hundreds of dogs and cats languishing there, and were heartbroken to learn few people went to the shelter to adopt an animal. Shane couldn’t get the picture of all the beautiful animals out of his mind, and came up with the idea of a “pardon”. He returned to the shelter to propose they do this, and was told there was no way the shelter director would ever agree. Shortly thereafter, Shane saw on the local news that the animal shelter director was fired. He returned to the shelter and reminded the kennel supervisor, “Remember you told me that you would sign a pardon if you were ever in charge!” That was the beginning of Shane’s War, and after a week of intense media coverage, the shelter kennels were miraculously empty from adoptions. Shane is pictured here with Olive, one of the grateful shelter dogs who found a loving home.
What began as a tragic story about an abused dog name Hope is now the inspiration for Shane & Janet Smith to travel throughout the country to rescue abused, neglected and unwanted animals in shelters. Even though Hope crossed over the Rainbow Bridge after just 19 days with the Smiths, she has touched more souls than thought “humanly” possible. The Smiths have now hosted 12 Pardons at shelters throughout the country, and many more are scheduled.
What brought Shane’s War to the Coachella Valley? Local animal advocate Cindy Sorenson met the Smiths when they did a pardon week at the nearby San Bernardino City Shelter. Cindy asked them to come out to our Riverside county shelter in Thousand Palms. Shortly thereafter, Shane received a phone call from Robert Miller, director of Riverside County Department of Animal Services, and an agreement was quickly made for Shane’s War to come here May 19 through May 24.
Drop by the Coachella Valley Animal Campus and meet Shane and Janet Smith. Bring your family members and friends to meet some of the animals at this fun and uplifting event. These animals are part of our community, and YOU can help solve the problem of their homelessness. Shane and Janet will be there interacting with the animals, and along with the staff, they can help you select that perfect pet. Meet and network with other animal lovers. There will be lots of media coverage, and you never know what celebrities might drop by.
Shane modestly explains, “It’s not about this couple coming to town. We’re just simple people. It’s going to take a big team that includes the entire community to pull together. People will connect during our event. We’ve had new rescue organizations form during our pardons. Everyone in the Coachella Valley needs to be part of the solution.” I personally know the staff at the shelter, and they are dedicated to getting homes for these animals. Now it’s time for our citizens to step up, visit the shelter, and learn how they can solve our homeless pet problem.
The Coachella Valley Animal Campus is located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms. You can call them at (760) 343-3644, and view their adoptable animals at www.rcdas.org. Take the Bob Hope exit from the 10 freeway and head north (away from the Aqua Caliente Casino). The shelter is open Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, and Sat 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Thursday hours are 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Need help getting to the shelter? On Wednesday, May 21, Loving All Animals will drive you there in our doggie decorated limousine…space limited so call now for reservations (760) 834-7000.
To learn more about this remarkable effort for animals, go to www.pawsforhopeandfaith.org and “Like” their Facebook page “Shane’s War Coming to Coachella”. Hugs and wags to everyone!