A nonprofit charitable organization is paying for the food supplies for all the homeless pets at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms.
The organization, The Friends of the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, a 501(c)(3) charity, contributed $22,000 to assist Riverside County Animal Services, Animal Services Director Robert Miller announced Jan. 6.
Riverside County Animal Services operates the desert shelter. The county's pet food supplies are also actually donated - by Hill's Science Diet - but the county must pay the sales tax and shipping cost associated with the donated food. The Friends of the Coachella Valley Animal Campus donation offset those costs on behalf of the county.
Animal Services Director Robert Miller said the savings will allow the department to spend that money elsewhere toward the pets, such as veterinary medical and animal care supplies.
"Anyone who has been following the county's overall fiscal crisis knows that this department has been mandated to cuts costs and many employees," Miller said. "So anytime we can get such a generous donation, it will alleviate our overall budgetary problem."
The key is using the money saved directly toward other animal needs and not offsetting county salaries, Miller said.
Miller said the Friends group's primary focus is assisting the homeless and stray pets and helping to promote saving these animals' lives. The Friends of the Coachella Valley Animals campus has spent more than $50,000 toward such needs since the shelter opened in 2005. Some of the projects the group has paid for include the automatic faucets for the dog kennel runs, awnings to make the outside visiting areas more comfortable for the dogs and potential adopters and a horse cover to provide shade for the equine area.
"We understand our tax dollars can only pay for so much in these hard times," said Sam Esposito, president of the Friends of the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. "This is one effort to go beyond what the tax base is providing. If it helps save a few more lives, that's what we work toward."
Added Esposito: "You do what you can do, one animal at a time. We only wish everyone did their part. Spaying or neutering your own pet, for example, is another way to make a big difference."
The Coachella Valley Animal Campus is located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms. There are currently more than 200 homeless and stray pets at the shelter.