Saving Stevie


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For pet lovers, the thought of an animal being locked up in a shelter—confined, alone, and confused—genuinely breaks our hearts. Of course, we owe shelter staff a huge debt of gratitude for the hard work they do every day and the loving care they give these helpless pets. But we’ve all heard the distressing stories of so-called “unadoptable” pets—those with disabilities, medical conditions, behavioral issues, or simply too many years on them. It’s painful to think about, because we know, even at no-kill shelters, pets who can’t be rehomed will sometimes live out rest of their days in the shelter because no one wants them. We worry, will they ever be adopted? Will they ever know the comfort and security of a forever home? There must be people out there somewhere who know how to help these special-needs pets, and surely the shelter will find someone willing to put in the extra effort to give them a loving, permanent home, right? Unfortunately, not always.


But thankfully, there are people out there— very special people with huge hearts, a lot of patience, and endless compassion—and if you were to ask them, they’d tell you the rewards of adopting the unadoptable come back to them tenfold … even a thousandfold! The joy that relationship brings, and the love and gratitude they receive from these pets—it’s life-changing. The pets give so much more than they ever take from their owners, and they usually have a lesson or two to teach along the way.

Take Stevie, our little cover dog. Stevie was found abandoned in a park bathroom in June 2021. A good Samaritan stumbled upon her and noticed her eyes were badly injured. She was clearly suffering and needed immediate medical attention.

Animal Samaritans’ Animal Rescue Manager, Michelle Bergeron, rushed Stevie to Dr. Catherine Gilabert at Animal Samaritans’ Veterinary Clinic in Indio, cradling and comforting the terrified pup along the way.

As Michelle stepped into the clinic with Stevie, staff immediately sprang into action to save the little dog. Rescuing injured animals can take a toll on one’s emotions. Michelle told us, “This is the hard part of my job, but it’s also the favorite part of my job because I know dogs like Stevie would not have a chance if we weren’t there to step in and save the day.”

Stevie’s injury was traumatic, and Animal Samaritans’ medical team had no option but to enucleate, or remove, both of her eyes. After surgery, the healing process began. Once fully recovered, the next challenge would be placing Stevie into a loving home, one where she could gain confidence with a patient pet parent who would help her adjust to her new world without sight.


Elise Loeb, a volunteer with Animal Samaritans, says she met Stevie when she came in for her volunteer shift. The site of Stevie, frightened and shaking in the corner, no longer able to see and navigate her unfamiliar surroundings, tugged at Elise’s heart.

Elise was so taken with Stevie that she offered to foster her. Knowing she had two other dogs at home, Elise told Animal Samaritans’ shelter employees that if her dogs could get along with Stevie, she would foster her until a permanent home could be found. She joked that she might be “back in 20 minutes.” That was 10 months ago! Elise’s dogs were quick to accept Stevie, and within a few weeks it was official. Stevie was not Elise’s foster dog—she’d been adopted into her family. She’d found her forever home!

Rescued animals like Stevie are very adaptable, and when given the chance, they make the best of their circumstances. It is extremely important for people to understand that without financial support from the public, Animal Samaritans’ life-saving programs would not exist. Animal Samaritans Animal Rescue Program gives injured and ailing dogs and cats new leases on life; without it, many would not survive.

The Adoption Alliance Animal Rescue Program at Animal Samaritans is vital to helping adoptable, sick and injured homeless animals in our community that would not stand a chance without human intervention. Over the years, Animal Samaritans’ donors and supporters have been incredibly generous in helping our Adoption Alliance Animal Rescue Program survive. If you would like to help animals like Stevie, please consider visiting to donate. All donations, large or small, are appreciated. Together, we can save more lives.

With the help of organizations like the Adoption Alliance Animal Rescue Program at Animal Samaritans, Stevie is not the only lucky pet to be living a happy, fulfilling life with a loving family despite her “issues.” Many other dogs, cats, birds and pets of all types have found happiness with pet parents who were able to see past either a medical condition, a disability, old age, or less-than-perfect behavior. They connected with the beautiful spirits these special animals possess, and they did what the pets couldn’t do for themselves— they found a way for them to adapt. That’s all they need—someone to provide love, their basic necessities, and whatever tools they need to adapt to a world that does not change for them.



We’d like to introduce you to a few more exceptional pets who have been given a second chance and are now living their best lives. We hope they’ll inspire you to look for the extraordinary when searching for your next pet. The payoff is priceless! Click here to meet 11 Unstoppable Pets Living with Unique Needs

Pet Companion Mag
Pet Companion Mag
Southern California's Local Pet Magazine


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