By Janet McAfee

Calling all Coachella Valley animal lovers! On November 23rd and 24th, the Whitewater Park in Rancho Mirage will transform into a magical Wizard of Oz themed animal adoption festival aptly called, “There’s No Place Like A Home”. Loving All Animals’ Super Pet Adoption Festival, now in its 5th year, is now one of the landmark events in the Coachella Valley. The goal this year is to find homes for over 500 rescue animals brought to the festival by over 35 organizations.

Replete with a yellow brick road and volunteers costumed as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and other favorites, the event will also feature a petting zoo for children against a Kansas village recreation. Whether you already have a dog, are seeking another one, or simply looking for something fun to do, this event offers something for everyone.

There are some new things in store for attendees at this mega adoption event in “Emerald City”. The park basketball court will be converted to an exciting animal demonstration area. Come out and meet the 2 Fast 4 Paws fly ball racing team led by Brenda Mejia. Our doggies in wheelchairs may not be racing, but you will see how special these animals are when you meet the dogs at Furrst and Furrmost Pooch Sanctuary with Stacey Lawler. Dog trainer to the Hollywood stars, Sandy Miller, will be on hand to teach you some dog obedience skills. Dream Dogs will demonstrate their well trained dogs. Guide Dogs of the Desert will showcase their amazing service animals. The Indio Police Department dogs will show you how these intelligent animals help fight crime in our valley.


The name change this year from adoption “Fair” to “Festival” reflects the increased entertainment and music that will be provided on a nearby stage. Lola Rossi put together an exciting line up of local entertainers including John Stanley King, smooth jazz guitarist Joe Baldino, saxophonist Chase, Fleet Easton, Elena & Donnie Beck, and Heatwave Faculty Band. Comedian and musician Rex Meredith is another highlight. Our local Boys’ and Girls’ Club jazz and show band will also perform. Rescue animals’ rock!

Something very special is planned for Sunday at 12:45 pm. Father Lincoln from Sacred Heart Catholic church will conduct a “Blessing of the Animals” service where your own pet can receive a blessing. Adopt a pet on Saturday, and return for this blessing on Sunday.

Loving All Animals wants to make adopting a rescue animal a fun, rewarding and educational experience. This event has some of the top local animal professionals on hand to provide information. Dr. Lillian Roberts from Country Club Animal Clinic and Dr. Doug Kunz of VCA Palm Springs will be on hand to offer complimentary pre-adoption physical examinations for your newly adopted cat or dog. Dr. Rebecca Diaz, local feline expert from The Cat Clinic, will have a booth. New pet owners will receive a free gift bag.

A grooming stage sponsored by Ritzi Rover Grooming Salon will feature professional groomers doing makeovers on dogs, providing pet care tips, and then will open up to the audience for “Ask the Groomer”. The many vendors will offer training tips, pet products, pet sitters, and cute outfits to send your new animal out in style. Another booth will provide low cost microchipping for your pet.

Various food vendors, including the famous Woody’s Burgers are serving food and drinks. Vegetarian dishes will be available. What a “purrfect” occasion to enjoy a delicious lunch outdoors while listening to awesome music and enjoying the sights. As Yappy Hour time approaches, there will be a wine and beer bar, with the Coachella Valley Brewing Company serving.

RR Broadcasting will broadcast live from the festival on Saturday. Our favorite animal loving local celebrities will be on hand to emcee including Valerie Kattz, Victor Cruz, Steve Kelly, Katie Markim, Jenifer Daniels, Bianca Rae, Patrick Evans, Samantha Cortese, and Laura Yanez.

The true stars of the day are the animals, the cats, the dogs, and the horses who come with a hope in their hearts for a home. Our own Riverside County shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal campus will bring over 60 dogs. Some rescue groups are breed specific such as California Maltese Rescue, and Forget-Me-Not Pekinese rescue. For the feline fancier, Pretty Good Cat, Hope to Home for Cats, and others will showcase some beautiful cats and kittens. One group is bringing horses. Some rescue groups are coming from as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego. This venue brings together both public shelters and private rescues to promote the adoption of rescue animals. Whatever type of pet you seek there is a good chance you will find your new best friend here.

Lindi Biggi, President and founder of Loving All Animals, describes the Festival, “This event is not only a festive weekend for the community, but it’s a chance to educate everyone about how together the Coachella Valley can work together and become a “No Kill” community for domestic animals. There are already 60 “No Kill” communities in the United States (where 90% or more of public shelter animals exit alive). We hope everyone will adopt an animal from our public shelters or one of our private rescue organizations, which either way supports the cause of rescue. The most moving part of the day after last year’s adoption fair took place when the private no-kill groups had empty space from so many adoptions, and they took in the remaining animals from the public shelters.”

Why host an adoption fair if folks can go to shelters and adopt? Many people won’t go to a shelter because they find it too depressing, and often the shelters are located in remote areas where people don’t know where they are located. This festival showcases these beautiful cats, dogs and horses in a setting that shows how special they are. Lots of experts will be on hand to help in the selection of your new companion. An event like this educates our valley about the wonderful world of rescue animals, and how they work their magic and bring happiness to our lives. Rescue animals have hearts of gold, the wisdom of experience, and their optimism for a better future is contagious.

This event is always the weekend before Thanksgiving. Journey down the Yellow Brick Road to Whitewater Park in Rancho Mirage situated directly behind The River shopping center in Rancho Mirage. Whitewater Park is located at 71560 San Jacinto Drive, Rancho Mirage. For more information, check Loving All Animals’ Facebook page, visit the website, or call their office at (760) 834-7000. There is a $5 donation admission charge, and children under 12 are free. This small admission fee includes a ticket for a wonderful raffle prize.

You need not be “dogless” anymore! Come experience the magic of Oz at this festival, meet some wonderful animals, and find the special one who touches your heart. Dorothy and Toto will be there to welcome you. There is “no place like a home” and no home is complete without a special dog or cat.