Animal Samaritans in the Forefront of Saving Animals
Animal Samaritans employees were honored with a Congressional Recognition Certificate by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack for their efforts in rescuing, saving and arranging adoption of hundreds of animals. Dedication included long drives to Sacramento in animal transport van to deliver rescues, LAX for shipping to Canada and arrangements with Canadian officials for pet immigration papers.
For over thirty years, Animal Samaritans has been quietly working behind the scenes making every effort to save the lives of dogs and cats in the Coachella Valley. It all started from an idea of former Desert Sands Unified School District teacher Barbara Flanagan who is still an active member of the Animal Samaritans Board of Directors.
At first, it was about education, adoptions, securing donations for feeding abandoned animals, rescue and finding facilities for spay and neuter. Over the years it evolved into a full fledged non-profit animal clinic which was ultimately swamped with clients seeking affordable health care for their pets. Last year, a state of the art clinic resembling a hospital dedicated to animal care was opened next to the County Animal Shelter in Thousand Palms. The old clinic on Ramon Road in Thousand Palms has been refurbished to serve as the Animal Samaritans Corporate Offices and will continue to be the No Kill-Animal Shelter so many locals have become familiar with. With four full time vets working at the new clinic, every effort is made to keep prices as low as possible and still remain solvent.
Animal Samaritans has now extended itself beyond the Coachella Valley borders and opened up new adoption territories to save Coachella Valley dogs and cats who end up at the County Animal Shelter from the necessity of euthanasia due to no place to house them.
During these times of economic crisis, hundreds of animals per week are abandoned adding to the ones who accidentally get lost and have owners somewhere looking for them. Statistically, 60 percent of animals who end up in local shelters get put to sleep and Animal Samaritans feverishly works to save as many as they can.
With the coordinated efforts of Michelle Hodge and her coordinator Christina Castillo, a process was set in place to where local Coachella Valley dogs and cats can be sent to areas where there is a scarcity of animals to adopt. Recently, seven animals were ferried to Canada by a regional Canadian Airline after they were driven to LAX, the Los Angeles Airport by Michelle and Christina. International borders are being bridged to save the animals, all complete with the required stamped paperwork and official dog immigration papers complete with photos and paw print. Christina along with a volunteer helper has driven 26 dogs to the Sacramento SPCA where they were eagerly awaiting them and set for adoption. Animals are prescreened using photos and are all selected by the organizations prior to being shipped to their facilities. All are requested animals.
The Riverside County Animal Shelter facilities along with a few Coachella Valley cities such as La Quinta and Palm Desert help provide funds to serve the animal populations and save as many lives as possible. Over 1000 dogs and cats have been rescued from shelters in the past seven months. For more information on how to volunteer, donate or find the clinic, call 760-343-0837 or visit their web site at: www.animalsamaritans.org Photo: Diana Martinez, Carla Rodriguez, Michelle Hodge, Claudia Suarez-District Representative for Congresswoman Bono Mack and Christina Castillo.