Monday, January 25, 2010

Letter to the Editor

submitted by Christy Johnson

Having been involved in animal rescue for over 20 years, the opportunity to volunteer at Desert Haven Animal Refuge was a perfect fit for me. So much so that my husband and I traveled 900 miles to come and be part of this amazing place.
Reba, Gene and Stephen Wagner along with Freddie Loveless and Desert Haven's founder, Eliana Aubin, work tirelessly to improve the lives of Sierra County's 4 legged residents. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a dedicated and compassionate group whose sole purpose is to provide and care for animals, nor have I ever seen animals in such fabulous mental and physical condition as I have been privileged to observe here.
People who generously give financial support to animal welfare organizations are often touched by the solicitations on television or by direct mail from the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA.
Unfortunately, the ASPCA primarily works for animals in the New York area and the Humane Society of the United States rakes in millions of dollars from unsuspecting Americans to pad the pockets of highly paid executives. Not one cent is given to small, local Humane Societies who struggle daily to provide for the animals in their care.
If you truly care about the plight of the animals in your community, don't be misled by the marketing blitz of large, national animal organizations. Please give your support to those on the front line who are actually making a difference in Sierra County at Desert Haven Animal Refuge.

Christy Johnson

Week of 1/15/10 Humane Happenings

by Eliana Aubin

As we are entering 2010, The Sierra County Humane Society wishes to give a huge pat on the back to Bullocks Grocery store in T or C. Three times a week, Desert Haven Animal Refuge becomes the grateful recipient of several boxes of fresh produce – one of the main ingredients in the diet of the feathered and furry residents of Birdland and Animal House at the domestic animal sanctuary. The Guinea pigs and rabbits – and there are many - live the good life in their several all enclosed habitats. Every morning, fresh veggies and fruits are prepared especially for them; every bit of fresh produce served to them in several shallow stainless steel platters is cut into bite size pieces, because they like it better that way. And then there are the peacocks, the chicken and roosters and also the large flock of white and domesticated ring-neck doves. They, too, appreciate fresh produce in their daily diet. The locally owned and operated Bullocks grocery store is also well-known for its one-of-a-kind Cash-for-clubs program. It’s a way for this community service oriented store to give back to the community in a very fair way: Of course, we hope that all our animal loving friends will make it a point to save their Bullocks receipts especially for us. Once redeemed by our organization, one dollar for every $1000 spent at Bullocks goes directly to us, totally free of charge to you. You can drop your Bullocks receipts off at Paws & Claws thrift shop, located across the alley from Family Dollar in T or C. We also have a box with our name on it at the T or C Library as well as at the Williamsburg Post Office. Several local folks also collect Bullocks receipts for us from their neighbors and friends and they make it a point to bring them to us on a regular basis.

All the money redeemed from Bullocks receipts helps cover some of the costs of the Sierra County Humane Society Spay-Neuter program and also its Spay-a-Stray program. This comprehensive program has been in existence, courtesy of our animal welfare organization, for the past 20 years and we are extremely proud of it. The Humane Society Spay-Neuter applications can be picked up at the T or C Police Station. For more information about the program, contact us at 575-894-2778.

This week again, we need dog and cat food, also rabbit pellets, sunflower and bird seeds. Interested in learning more about our animal welfare organization? Perhaps contributing to it in some way? Contact us at 575-894-1694 or 894-2778; Write us at POB 638, Williamsburg, NM 87901. Visit us at and

You can also chat with us at

The Rescue of Lobo the Wolf-Dog

By Reba Wagner

Hi everyone,

Some of you expressed interest in hearing 'the rest of the story' about Lobo, well here it is along with some photos.

Lobo's story starts out a sad one, but ends on a very happy note. See attached photos of his release and his introduction to his new home.

As most of you know, Stephen works at the Sierra Animal Shelter (Cardwell's dog pound) and has the chance to come in contact with a multitude of dogs. All of them he loves, but once in a while he gets close to one and that is what happened when Lobo was brought in by Animal Control. Stephen has a soft heart, wonder where he gets that! :>)

We were told that Lobo was raised by a couple and they could not afford to pay the shelter fee to get him back. The man is in a wheelchair and he and his wife are not physically able to handle Lobo any more. Lobo is 7 1/2 yrs. old and they've had him since he was a puppy. Lobo, they said, is a Malamute/Timberwolf mix. Lobo loves people and is very happy when in close contact with his humans. He is not aggressive toward people or other dogs and he does this really cute happy dance thing with his front feet when he sees you.

Here at Desert Haven, at this time, we did not have room for a dog big as Lobo even though he is a loving, sweet natured big boy. There didn't seem to be any prospective adopters coming into the shelter that wanted a large, lovable dog for their family.
We knew that if he wasn't adopted from the shelter soon, he would be euthanized. Well that dreaded day came when they told Stephen, on Monday Nov. 2, that Lobo had 1 week to live. Stephen called me and there I began a desperate search for a home, a foster home, or a sanctuary for his breed. I e-mailed some of our Hillsboro volunteer crew for ideas & help and Jan Haley told me about a place she had been told about over in the Gila National Forest on private land.

By this time we are getting down to the wire in saving Lobo. It is Thursday and we are afraid that they might not wait till Monday to put Lobo down, but may do it over the weekend. Contact information was found on the place in the Gila and after I spoke with the lady in charge of the sanctuary on the phone Thursday, there begins the happy part of Lobo's story.

Deirdre Wolf (yes, that is her real, legal name) operates a non-profit, no-kill sanctuary for Wolf/Dog Hybrids. She calls her place "Wolfsong Sanctuary". Deirdre, after hearing Lobo's story, agrees to take him and Gene and I made plans to deliver him on Sunday, Nov. 8th. She already had 35 wolfdog hybrids and some full-blooded wolves at her facility. I immediately called the local shelter to tell them that Desert Haven will be adopting Lobo and they scheduled him for neutering and vaccinations on Friday morning and Gene and I picked him up Friday afternoon at the vets office and brought him back to Desert Haven to stay until Sunday. There was relief all around knowing that Lobo had received a stay-of-execution and would be going to a place where he would be with others of his kind.

Sunday morning - Gene and I loaded Lobo up in the Jeep this morning and headed out for Silver City and the Gila. What a drive!!! We followed the directions and met Deirdre at a parking area in the Gila Nat. Forest and she led us in to her place a few miles away. You definitely need a 4-wheel drive vehicle for the clearance issue. The road into her property is actually a creek bed, glad it wasn't the monsoon season. Those of you who know me, know that her place would be my dream place. When we pulled up to her gate, we were met by a pack that consisted of coy dogs, a coyote & a german shepherd. We parked and entered the gates. We weren't sure how Lobo would react to a large pack surrounding him right at the beginning, but they accepted him and he acted like he had been with them all along. The pack surrounded us as we made our way to the wolf area of the property.
Lobo was introduced, through the fence first (see photo attached), to his new pen mates and then he was put into the pen with them. After some sniffing by the others and some close scrutiny, they readily accepted him as part of their pack. One of the females quickly claimed him for her own (see photo attached) and was nuzzling him and nipping him on the ruff, she is a large, beautiful girl. He handled this by going and standing in the large tub of water they use for swimming and drinking.

Deirdre gave us a wonderful tour of her facility and was very informative about the wolf dog hybrids. Her whole property, 37 acres with 20 acres fenced by chainlink fencing, borders the Gila National Forest and is the perfect place for a sanctuary like hers. Each Wolf family or pack has their own very large fenced area with housing, trees to climb (yes, wolves love to climb trees) and places to dig a den if they want. The public is welcome to come for a tour at no charge, but she does take donations. As you can imagine, it takes a lot to feed 35+ wolves/wolf dogs, plus she has 17 regular dogs, plus the coy dog pack. She feeds raw meat (elk, deer, beef) and bags of dog food (Iams, Pedigree, & Purina).

This lady is providing a wonderful place for these misunderstood animals. The senseless breeding of the wolf with dogs creates a beautiful animal, but also one that most people are not prepared to care for, train or understand once it is no longer a puppy. After the 'new' wears off, they are generally euthanized, die at a young age by being shot by hunters, or the lucky ones end up at a place such as Wolfsong Sanctuary.

Deirdre does not have a website for Wolfsong Sanctuary, so if you would like to visit and get up close and personal and get 'wolfed', please give me a call or e-mail me and I will put you in touch with her. Gene and I had a wonderful experience today at Wolfsong Sanctuary and seeing Lobo go into a pack of his kind, knowing that he will live out his days as he should, made the experience extra special.

We would like to thank our son for having a caring, kind heart for those in need, we are proud of him.
A special thank you goes out to Jan and Becky (part of our Hillsboro volunteer crew) for providing the funds for the adoption fee so that we could save the life of a wonderful, loving animal.
Another special thank you to the 'Wolf Lady' Deirdre Wolf for giving Lobo the chance at a long, happy life and a beautiful new girlfriend.

You know, places such as Desert Haven Animal Refuge and Wolfsong Sanctuary are all over the United States. We are not in competition with each other, we are all here for the same reason. We are here to give animals another chance at life, a loving forever home, a place where they belong. Please, no matter where you are at in the United States, take time to visit some of these places and give an animal a few minutes of your time. It does mean a lot to them, you can tell by the look in their eyes and that slurrpy wetness you feel on your face.

Bye for now friends,

Reba Wagner
Animal Care Coordinator
Workamper Coordinator
Desert Haven Animal Refuge

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Week of 1/1/10 Humane Happenings

by Eliana Aubin

Sprinkles, Desert Haven's little dog, is now Rosie and she has a new home with a little girl to play with

Since early December, several donations have been made by local folks, including Bonnie Waters of Williamsburg, in memory of Michael Oakes who passed away 12-9-08. A year after his passing, Michael is most remembered by folks who knew him and respected and loved him as a good man who loved animals. Contributions made in his memory to the Sierra County Humane Society and Desert Haven insure that Michael Oakes is helping companion animals even beyond Death – a worthy tribute to a worthy human being.

At the threshold of a brand new year ­- the last in the first decade of the new century – the Sierra County Humane Society is beginning its 21st year. From a humble beginning in 1989, it now owns and operates a small but highly effective no-kill domestic animal sanctuary, home to over 200 furry and feathered living creatures including an average of 30 canines and 34 felines. The Society also funds and administers several crucial community oriented programs such as its Adopt-a-Classroom, Spay-Neuter, Spay-a-Stray among others, all of them funded by private and corporate contributions, together with a busy thrift shop operated exclusively by volunteers.

In winter, canned dog food is always high on the priority wish list at Desert Haven. 30 healthy and very active dogs eat a lot each day, especially during the colder months when they need more calories, and we insure that they stay healthy and well fed by mixing some canned food into their dry food. We also need rabbit pellets, sunflower and bird seeds, cleaning detergent, bleach, white vinegar, scrub brushes, latex rubber and work gloves. Catnip and toys made with catnip, also sturdy rope toys for our dogs would also be very much appreciated. Your donations can be dropped off at Paws & Claws thrift shop or Desert Haven. For more information, contact us at 575-894-1694 or 894-2778 or visit us at You can also check-out our web site and our blog at