Spike and Saddee, Homeless Pups with Homeless People

Janet Mcafee

A distraught woman and her teenage daughter arrived by car at the Loving All Animals shelter in Coachella with two badly matted dogs on May 4, 2021. They were living in their car after a domestic dispute with the mom’s boyfriend. The boyfriend ordered them to leave his home where they had been living. The woman had a family member who might let them move in, but the offer did not include the dogs. The Humane Society of the Coachella Valley in North Palm Springs provided the mother and daughter with gas money for the trip to Coachella.

Jeanette with Loving All Animals conducted an extensive temperament test and noted the two dogs were nippy and unsocialized. Spike, the male, barked aggressively and did not want anyone to touch him, and Saddee, the female, was withdrawn. Jeanette patiently waited, and the dogs seemed to calm a bit. She was optimistic their behavior would improve with patience, training and time. She suspected the terrier mix dogs were kept as “outside only” and devoid of much human attention. We can only speculate as to how they were treated.

Their owner claimed Spike and Saddee were vaccinated, but had no veterinary records to document this. The 2-yearold siblings were not spayed or neutered. Many folks who relinquish their pets due to housing issues have no money to provide medical care for them.

Spike and Saddee are part of what appears to be a pattern forming this summer, of increased shelter intakes, especially compared to this time last year. A year ago, we watched happy news reports of animal shelters with empty kennels during the pandemic. However, many local animal shelters, including the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, report a significant increase in owner-relinquished dogs and cats beginning in May. Lots of phone calls are coming in to Loving All Animals with a sad and familiar story, “I’m moving and I can’t take my dogs to the new home.” Currently, there is a shortage of rental properties, and renters with pets find few landlords will accept them when there are many “petless” applicants. HOA restrictions concerning the number, size, and breed of allowed dogs further limit housing options for dogs.

Pictured above is Loving All Animals’ volunteer, Diane Wight, holding Spike and Saddee a month after their arrival. Diane volunteered almost daily, focusing on these frightened siblings. She reports, “At first I sat still and quiet near Saddee and Spike for several hours without eye contact, treats in hand. Saddee hid under a dog bed. Spike finally sniffed my foot and then ran away. After several days of this, Spike sniffed my hand, and I moved my fingers to gently brush his face. His sister came over, too. It was a beautiful moment when they realized I was safe and they could trust me. I absolutely love working with these dogs!”. Once they could be handled, Loving All Animals arranged for the dogs’ grooming and veterinary appointments.

A year ago, we watched happy news reports of animal shelters with empty kennels during the pandemic. However, many local animal shelters, including the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, report a significant increase in owner-relinquished dogs and cats beginning in May.

Loving All Animals decided the bonded pair should be adopted together. They only had each other during the loss and trauma of their first tumultuous home. By the time you read this, there should be a happy ending in a happy home for Spike and Saddee, both of whom are now joyous, loving, and healthy pups. They received all needed vet care, including spaying and neutering. However, that may not be the fate of many homeless animals who languish in our streets and get passed over in government shelters.

What can animal lovers do to help? Assist family and friends with their pets if they are temporarily homeless or hospitalized. Walk a dog for an infirmed senior or friend who has difficulty walking. Volunteer at one of the many wonderful animal welfare groups and shelters in the Coachella Valley. Donate to a local private animal welfare organization that relies on donations to house, feed, train, and provide veterinary care for their animals. You can make a tax-deductible donation to Loving All Animals at www.lovingallanimals.org or call about volunteering at (760) 834-7000. Spike and Saddee say, “Thank you for your support!”

PHOTO: Loving All Animals’ volunteer, Diane Wight, holding Spike and Saddee PHOTO COURTESY LOVING ALL ANIMALS»