Compassion in a Time of Need

It’s not every day someone offers you $50,000 dollars, especially in a time that is fraught with economic uncertainty. Unwanted and abandoned animals are increasing in numbers as the result of economic instability and animal overpopulation. As a result, animals are left at vacant houses, packs of animals wander streets, strays are found left for dead in the desert, and shelters become overcrowded.

However, Lend-A-Paw co-founders Luanne Parks and Anne Boukidis-Michas, President, donated $50,000 to Animal Samaritans SPCA so that the plight of homeless animals may be improved. Such help is an outstanding example of compassion in a time of need.

Anne Boukidis-Michas is no stranger to giving. For the past 37 years Lend-A-Paw has been donating money to Animal Samaritans and other animal welfare groups earmarked for low-income individuals and families with high-cost vet care needs. “Without Lend A Paw,” said Fred Saunders, Executive Director of Animal Samaritans, “our community’s homeless animal population would be even higher, and many pets in need of veterinary attention would not be seen.”

For decades Lend-A-Paw has donated between $25,000 and $35,000 each year to pay for animal spay and neuter operations, vaccinations, injuries, and other pet care needs. In the early years, Ann and co-founders Luanne Parks and Anita DeFabris partnered with local celebrities such as actress Diana “Mousey” Lewis, widow of actor William Powell, to hold charity events that raised thousands of dollars for the organization. Throughout her long history, Ann and her all-volunteer staff have worked tirelessly to rescue and find homes for, spay and neuter, and distribute food and medical care to thousands of abandoned animals, for no pay, often with money from their own pockets.

While following her heart’s compassion for animals, Anne earned a living as a science teacher and school counselor for Palm Springs High School. It was 1971, after returning from summer break, that Ann and her co-founders, both teachers’ aides at the school, decided something must be done. “So many cats and dogs were running loose around campus,” recalls Ann. “They had no food and appeared to be dying of thirst. At the time it seemed the desert was being overrun with animals that needed help.”

Lend-A-Paw’s $50,000 donation is being placed in a fund for Animal Samaritans’ future veterinary medical center. Once sufficient funding is acquired, Animal Samaritans will build its new facility on the Animal Campus adjacent to Riverside County’s Department of Animal Services in Thousand Palms. In the new facility, Animal Samaritans expects to double the number of spay and neuter surgeries they currently perform, a number that can exceed 30 surgeries a day. In addition to assisting local pet owners with affordable services, this year Animal Samaritans plans to give back more than $75,000 in free services to qualifying pet owners, which will benefit the entire community.

Animal Samaritans SPCA, a 501 (c) 3 founded in 1978, is committed to improving the lives of animals and people. As the Coachella Valley’s lead animal welfare organization, a primary aim is to eliminate animal homelessness, abuse, and saving animal lives. Programs and services in place to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals include: prevention through humane education, low-cost and no-cost spay and neuter, low-cost vaccinations, mircochipping, animal sheltering and pet adoptions. The organization also runs an all-volunteer Animal Assisted Therapy program that visits local nursing homes, special needs classrooms, hospitals and Juvenile Hall. More information is available by calling 760-343-4908 and by visiting www.animalsamaritans.org

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