Friday, January 30, 2009

Whitney, on arrival at Desert Haven

Whitney, a tiny young Terrier Whippet mix who had been wandering the Palomas countryside with another little girl-dog, was recently rescued at Desert Haven Animal Refuge (DHAR), together with her little buddy. Whitney was injured and needed to undergo a very serious operation to repair a ruptured diaphragm. We were told by the veterinarians who diagnosed her injury that it was probably created by trauma that little Whitney suffered either before or after being “dumped”. A kick by a former owner or some senseless passer-by, perhaps a larger dog such as the one pursuing her and her little buddy at the time they were both rescued, may have been the cause of Whitney severe injury that, if not treated immediately, would cause this little girl-dog to deteriorate rapidly and die a sure and painful death.

We had a choice to make at Desert Haven - either euthanize her before she continued to suffer with no chance at survival, or risk a surgery that, if successful, would give little Whitney her only chance to live at all. Whitney underwent the three-hour surgery last Monday. A gentle little girl-dog with a strong will to live, she is now recuperating at the animal hospital until she can be brought back to DHAR and its crew.

Individuals who abandon domestic animals, whether on the side of busy highways, in neighbors’ yards, or near peaceful neighborhoods, are causing them an enormous amount of stress that often develops into mental and sometimes irreversible trauma. Their time spent on their own disrupts their immune system and often brings on grave illnesses, deadly diseases, painful injuries. What a horrible end for a dog or a cat whose greatest fault is to have been born unwanted!

Our animal welfare organization operates under a very tight budget that forces us to often make difficult choices to insure continued financial stability. Should we have euthanized little Whitney because of lack of funds? Could we instead let her keep on suffering until she died from her injury? Or should we give Whitney her only chance at life, by choosing the very costly operation instead?

The costs of a surgery of this type are prohibitive but we felt that Whitney deserved this one new chance at life. Perhaps, in doing so, we were also attempting to correct in some small way, something badly wrong in our own society, when too large a segment of the population still treats animals like trash, to be discarded at will. Too many unwanted and abandoned animals suffer painful and lonely deaths as they struggle to survive on their own. To us, little Whitney embodies the attempts of those of us who sincerely care about animals, to redeem, in some way, our Society for the wrong created by some of its members.

If some of our readers wish to help us cover parts of the huge costs of Whitney’s surgery, please let us know how you can help us raise the needed funds. Visit us at Desert Haven on Tuesday, contact us at 894-2778 or check us out at Or follow up on little Whitney’s recuperation here on this blog.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Week of 1/11/09 Humane Happenings

Tom & John work as a team on the Tuesday project

Desert Haven ( DHAR), Sierra County’s No-Kill domestic animal sanctuary, is a very special place for the unwanted animals seeking refuge there, but also for the folks who commit weeks, months and even years of their life to help give those innocent creatures new hope and a new worthwhile existence. Tuesdays are special at DHAR for many reasons. Most of the folks involved at the sanctuary work together on projects that day, and when everyone gathers for the 1 PM pot-luck lunch, there is an atmosphere of camaraderie and kinship that can’t be beat.

Ron in the kitchen

Also, many of the pot-luck lunches could rival some of the best restaurants in our area. Deb Peter’s recent pasta bar was absolutely delicious. Everyone pitched in with a specialty sauce, salad or dessert, including Ron Gjurovich who delighted the seafood lovers with his superb clam sauce. Last Tuesday, Ron's brisket slices on a bun was a winner. It takes a lot of food to feed an average of 22 hungry folks every Tuesdays, and everyone pitches in, in a way that is remarkable.

This week's Kudos go to Dr Cardwell, owner and operator of Hot Spring Clinic and Sierra Animal Shelter, who for many years now, has supported both Spay-Neuter and Spay-a -Stray programs instituted by our organization in 1990 and 1994 respectively. His support does not stop there; when we opened DHAR to dogs and cats with no other place to go, Dr Cardwell accepted to sterilize our DHAR animals at a lower fee, and to also lower his prices on some of the shots. Without his gesture, sterilizing our animals and keeping their shots up-to-date would have been very difficult to assimilate for our small organization.

Because of Dr. Cardwell’s generosity, our animal welfare organization is able to offer one spay-neuter each month to one local resident with an animal in need of sterilization. Our organization chooses the lucky recipient each month and the surgery is performed, courtesy of Dr Cardwell. A very nice gesture on the part of a very busy veterinarian. Thank-you, Dr. Cardwell.

We need help at Paws & Claws, our humane society thrift shop. Deb Peters needs the services of someone interested in helping her check donated electronics and small electrical appliances in the shop. If some of our readers can spare a couple of hours either Wednesdays or Fridays, please contact Freddie at 894-2778 for more information. We sure need help in that department, either Wednesdays between 12 and 4 PM, or Fridays, between 10 and 4 PM.

Interested in finding out about us, contact us at 575-894-2778, visit Desert Haven on Tuesday or by appointment, or check us out at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In the Spirit of Christmas at Walmart

Since Wal Mart opened its doors in T or C this past Summer, Desert Haven, Sierra County's No-Kill domestic animal sanctuary, has been the lucky recipient of damaged bags of pet food (mostly dog food) that, together with donations from local animal loving residents, are helping feed the animal residents of DHAR.

Speaking of the sanctuary's canines only, depending on the number of resident dogs at the time, it takes an average of 15 to 20 lbs of food each day, not including treats, to keep the residents of Dog Town well fed and happy. The Wal Mart contribution of damaged bags of dog food has been a very welcome addition to their staple diet and Wal Mart's gesture is very much appreciated.

Eliana Aubin ( left) - Sierra County Humane Society President & CEO of Desert Haven Animal Refuge - wishes to thank, on behalf of everyone involved at the sanctuary, Wal Mart Manager Patrick Roman, as well as both Wal Mart employees Jacque Bechtel (middle) & Debby Bodie ( right) who have facilitated the donations since Wal mart opened last August.

Week of 1/4/09 Humane Happenings

Deb Peters & Dolly Loftus at Paws & Claws Thrift Shop

Welcome to Desert Haven Animal Refuge, Ken and Isa DeArman. This friendly RV’ing couple recently arrived to the sanctuary from their home in Lake Havasu, AZ, to fulfill their Winter commitment to our no-kill facility. When Butch Nottleman arrives from Virginia within the next couple of days, our Desert Haven work camping crew will then be complete until Spring.

At this time, kudos go to Work Camper coordinator Dolly Loftus, who, with the help of Desert Haven CEO Eliana Aubin and Operations Coordinator Freddie Lovelace, is doing a superb job keeping track of all the work camping inquiries from throughout the US. Dolly’s phone skills, her patience and professionalism in all that she does are wonderful assets when it comes to not only inform potential work campers about what we do here at Desert Haven, but also choose from the many inquiries we are receiving year ‘round, the best folks for the job, so to speak. Not an easy task for sure!

Reba Wagner, husband Gene and son Steven are now settled at DHAR from their home in Tennessee and we hope that they will continue to consider the sanctuary their home for many months to come. Gene, a jack-of-all-trade who enjoys staying busy and helpful, is also wonderful with the resident dogs. A caring and patient man, Gene has a special way with rescued dogs that have been traumatized in their former life, and he takes time to help them get acquainted with their new environment and learn to trust people again. Their young adult son, Steve, is also very helpful and a pleasure to work with. Even though his new job working for a local business takes much of his time, he always helps his parents handle their commitment at DHAR. His mother Reba is now DHAR Animal Care Coordinator and we have no doubt that she will handle this new responsibility in the same professional way that she has already demonstrated in every task she was asked to perform since her family’s arrival this past Summer. It’s great to have you all here, Reba, Gene and Steve.

Lazy day in the Cool Cat Neighborhood

Fifteen year-old feline named Papillon, resident of the Cool Cat neighborhood at DHAR for many months, was reunited last Tuesday with his former human friend, a Coast Guard named Ryan, who was 12 years old when his family rescued the kitty from an animal shelter in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A beautiful story of the love of a child - now a man - for his cat, a love that endured many hardships along the way. For those with internet access who wish to know more about this moving story, check back here at this blog within the next few days.

Our wish list for this week: Dry and moist cat food, also dog and cat treats - no rawhides, please.

Interested in finding out about us, contact us at 575-894-2778, visit Desert Haven on Tuesday or by appointment, or check us out at

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Letter from a Volunteer

submitted by Jan Haley

I have recently become a volunteer at Desert Haven. I've been aware of DHAR for several years and had intended to visit and see if it would be a place, as an animal lover, that I would want to volunteer. I finally dropped in for the Tuesday pot luck, and was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Not only was I warmly welcomed by Eliana and all of the volunteers, I got a chance to tour the facilities and meet the animals. It was immediately clear to me that the animals were very well cared for. In addition to basic needs--food and shelter-- I learned that the dogs were walked, or allowed to run, in the huge fenced enclosure twice a day.

Shadow & Stan

What most impressed me, though, and continues to impress me, is the loving attention that all of the animals receive every day. Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, are all attended to with gentle care and attention. Rather than a sad and depressing experience that I'd feared when I imagined the abandoned and homeless animals that I'd see, I felt relieved and grateful. The animals I met that day, and have since come to know, are pampered and loved. While the best possible situation for the dogs and cats, and the obvious goal of DHAR, is for them to go to good homes, these animals are living well while they wait for adoption.

Father Peter, Ralph & Benji playing ball

Soon after I became a volunteer, I became involved in a situation involving two older dogs in my town. They were left alone at their owner's former business location after they divorced and moved away. They had hired a local teenager to feed and water the dogs, but except for about 5 minutes a day, they were alone. These dogs had lived together for about 5 years and got along well except for occasional fights over food or attention. Unfortunately their last fight was a bad one. Emma was severely injured by Sophie, after they both tried to get petted at the same time by the boy who fed them. Sophie was taken to another location in town and penned. Emma lay injured for almost 24 hours, wet from being sprayed by a hose to break up the fight, and unable to get up. I found her in this condition after I was informed of the fight. A friend and I got her to Dr. Cardwell's office. She was there for several days and her previous owner paid for her treatment, but relinquished her to the shelter. She was going to be euthanized within a few days if she wasn't adopted. It was clear that she would not be adopted, and I had a full house and couldn't take any more animals. I appealed to my new friends at DHAR. I knew that if they took Emma, they would be using one of their rare vacant spaces for a dog whose chances for adoption were slim at best. They considered the situation and agreed to take her. When my friend, Steve, picked her up from Dr. Cardwell's office and delivered her to DHAR, a number of volunteers were there to meet her. They treated her like she was a special guest and Emma wagged and smiled her way into the hearts of the whole crew. She was only there for about a week, when a couple who had previously adopted a dog from DHAR, heard about her plight. They picked her up and took her into their home. I've visited her several times since she was adopted and she is one happy dog. She's eating good, nutritious food, walking, playing with the other dog and cat. It was a wonderful ending to a sad story for Emma, thanks to DHAR.

Sophie needs someone to love and to be loved by

Unfortunately, old Sophie was still an issue. She was back at the place where she and Emma had lived together. Now she was completely alone, except for feedings and when I, and a couple of other people, walked her or stopped to talk to her. While she'd had her problems with aggression with Emma, she loves people and would howl with pleasure when I'd come to see her. I tried to find her a home somewhere in town but no one could take her. I finally decided to appeal to DHAR once more and again, after deliberations, they agreed to take her. She is there now and is doing quite well. The volunteers have again shown great compassion for a sad old dog. Knowing Sophie's history, I think I can say with assurance that she is more contented than she's ever been. We are all trying to find her a good home where she can be an only dog. She deserves the same break that her old friend, Emma, has received.

I only spend a couple of hours a week at DHAR at present, but hope at some point I can do more. I'm enjoying the work, the animals and the other volunteers. I'm so grateful for this experience and that places like DHAR exist.

"Thank you, Jan, for your help, support, and writing this lovely letter!"
Camille & the Staff of DHAR

I Rescued a Human Today

Submitted on behalf of all shelter animals by Robbin Brodsky; DHAR Volunteer

........I rescued a human today.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved.

At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Shirah, in need of a forever family

Week of 12/29/08 Humane Happenings

Eliana with donations

2008 is almost gone, and the active volunteers for The Sierra County Humane Society, Desert Haven Animal Refuge and Paws & Claws thrift shop wish to extend their appreciation to all the animal loving folks who, throughout the year, have supported our organization in some way.

This last week alone, the following folks and businesses deserve a pat on the back:

Harold C. Brown & Company for their generous contribution on behalf of Liana Stark and Doug Imshaug in memory of their dog Max; Jan Haley of Hillsboro, who not only sent a contribution, but wrote about us in the DHAR blog at; Doctor and Mrs. Arnold Gold of Live Oak, CA, for their donation in honor of their friends Bill and Sue White who work camped at DHAR several years ago. Richard and Annie Millard who for several years now, have donated each and every month towards feeding the residents of Birdland; Bill & Mary Jane Clellan, for their on-going donations of cash and dog and cat food; George and DiAnna Schnetzer, former Sierra County residents and long-time supporters of DHAR, for their box of Christmas goodies that was enjoyed by the Tuesday crew at a recent staff meeting.

DiAnna Schnetzer & Sasha

A special thank-you goes to the following businesses: LeRoy of Black Range Enterprises who recently donated his labor when he repaired some of the light fixtures in Paws & Claws thrift shop; Citizens Bank of Las Cruces who sent a donation in lieu of flowers in memory of Mike Oakes who passed away recently;
St Cloud Mining for their on-going contribution of entire pellets of cat litter for the thirty-two residents of The Cool Cat Neighborhood. The T or C Police Department that has kindly made available to anyone who asked for them our Spay-Neuter forms since 1990, when we started giving rebates to folks in need of a financial boost to get their companion animal sterilized; Wal-Mart, the new kid on the block, for generously donating occasional damaged bags of dog food to Desert Haven.

Walmart food donation

A very special thank you goes to the Secret Santa who recently dropped off a substantial number of boxes of Christmas pet treats at the front gate of DHAR. Not only the dogs and cats loved the extra treats, but the humans who were given the opportunity to distribute them enormously appreciated the anonymous gesture.

We thank Bullocks of T or C for their on-going contributions of fresh veggies from their produce department. Since Desert Haven opened its doors in 2002 to unwanted guinea pigs, rabbits, peacocks, miniature chickens and roosters, the fresh veggies donated by the community-minded grocery store have become an important and very healthy staple in their diet. The Bullocks’ Cash for Clubs program allows folks interested in supporting our organization in some way to save their receipts for us. When redeemed, the receipts bring our animal welfare organization the cash that we need to keep the SCHS Spay-Neuter program alive year after year. Drop-off boxes for Bullocks receipts are located at the T or C public Library, the Williamsburg Post Office and Paws & Claws thrift shop in T or C.

Last but not least, the local media has been outstanding to our organization. Without the support of the Media, we would not be able to inform our readers of all the good that our animal welfare organization does for the community. A very special thanks goes to The Herald for raising money for our Society when searching the Internet with GoodSearch at, powered by Yahoo.

Interested in finding out more about DHAR and what we do for Sierra County? Call us at 575-894-2778 or check us out at

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Featured Pet - Sophie

Sophie is an 8 year-old, fairly large, Terrier/mix. She is very friendly and loves people. Sophie enjoys going for walks and ignores other dogs when on a leash. She is also content to relax in the sun and would be a great companion for an adult. She would do best in a home with no other animals.

Originally, Sophie came from an animal shelter in Las Cruces. The couple who adopted her divorced several years later. Both of them left town, leaving Sophie and another dog at their place of business. The hired someone to feed them but, other than visits by people in Hillsboro, neither dog had any attention. Her companion, Emma, was adopted by a local couple after spending a week at Desert Haven. Sophie is now alone. She's a very sweet dog, but sad. She needs a human to love her and give her the attention she deserves.

Contact Freddie at 575-894-2778 or email Eliana Aubin at for more information about Sophie or to make arrangements to meet her.