About Debbie Fan

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So far Debbie Fan has created 44 blog entries.

Help Us Help Them

Stories from the Downtown Dog Rescue Pet Support Space in South Los Angeles

Sindel after surgery

5 year old Sindel’s person, who is a return client of the Pet Support Space, called our office asking for assistance in getting him into a hospital to get his abscessed painful toe examined. Thankful, one of our counselors was able to book Sindel an immediate appointment, and the results were serious.  The infection had become so bad, that he required surgery and a drain was inserted to drain out his infection.  With our discounted rate, the charges for exam, medication, and surgery came to a total of $490.  Sindel’s person was able to pay for half of the cost of care, and DDR paid the balance.

Sweet Mimi – terminally ill

Mimi’s person has been a client of our Pet Support Space since we opened our office last year.  For the past two months, Mimi’s health has been declining.  We sent Mimi to a partner animal hospital for an exam because she had difficulty breathing. Because of the ongoing relationship with our counselors, we were able to have a compassionate conversation about quality of life.  After speaking to the veterinarian, getting more information, Mimi’s person decided that humane euthanasia was the most loving option. Can you imagine watching your pet suffer, knowing that your pet needs veterinarian care, but you can’t afford to pay for an exam?  Mimi’s owner called our office, and thanked our counselors for their help and ongoing support.  Our Pet Support Clients are never alone, especially during end of life decisions.  We have counselors responding to calls for help seven days a week, sometimes, day and night.

Puppy Canelo

Four month old Canelo’s owner called our Pet Support Space office asking for help because Canelo had been vomiting, and had diarrhea. A medical voucher was written for a same day appointment at a partner animal hospital, where he was diagnosed with Parvo.  DDR paid the cost of care, and hopefully, little Canelo will make a full recovery very soon.

No animal or person should have to suffer because of the cost of veterinary care. With more than 600 cases per month, our three Pet Support Space counselors and volunteers are there for low income families with pets, often in their darkest moment.  For others, a monthly food supply, or vaccines, flea & tick prevention, and wellness care to keep more pets in their first home forever home.  Thousands of pets and their families are grateful to YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Can you help us reach our Fall Fundraising goal?  The Saving Pets Challenge ends September 30th.  

http://www.mightycause.com/organization/Downtown-Dog-Rescue

The Saving Pets Challenge ends September 30th

Please consider making a donation to help us help them.

Community Pet Clinic

On Sunday September 12th, with the volunteer veterinarians and vet techs from the SCVMA, the dedicated DDR clinic volunteers and our friends at Spay4LA, we were able to provide vaccinations, microchips, deworming, flea & tick medication (donation from Frontline) as well as wellness exams, and spay and neuter services to 247 pets.  The 159 dogs and 50 cats and 38 spay & neuter surgeries were provided free of charge for families that are experiencing homelessness, living in transition, receiving government support, and low income pet owners, who are struggling to care for their pets’ health.   

This was our 13th drive thru pet clinic, where all pets have a reservation, which enables our counselors to connect with pet owners before the clinic, in a more meaningful way.  It’s through those first conversations that we learn about the potential addition needs and/or challenges that they are facing. Although this was a drive thru clinic, we accepted all the walk-ups who rode the bus, pushed a cart or stroller, rode their bike, took whatever measures necessary to get their pet to our clinic!

For some families, who are already familiar with our services, we are able to check in, give booster vaccines, and let them know how DDR has expanded.  In fact, it’s through our clients, who refer their friends, family members, and neighbors that we are able to connect to new clients.  As with every clinic, we see a lot of puppies and kittens, who receive their first veterinary exam, vaccination, and deworming, while volunteers discuss pet food, grooming, and training to insure that these little pets start their lives off in a positive direction that includes spay and neuter when they are old enough.

Some of the pets that come to our clinic are too sick to receive services, such as these three kittens who had an upper respiratory infection. The family who found the kittens in their backyard did not know where to turn or what to do before connecting with one of our counselors.  Once the kittens are healthy, they will all be spayed and neutered and available to adopt. Never turning someone away without resources and support, the kittens were examined and treated at our monthly mobile veterinary clinic.

The Monday, that follows every clinic, we have a mobile veterinarian park at our Pet Support Space office on West Florence in South Los Angeles, in order to provide free to low cost veterinary care that we could not provide at the drive thru clinic.  The mobile hospital even provides spay and neuter, dentistry, tumor removal and humane euthanasia for terminally ill, suffering, senior pets.  Here are some of the pets who we treated at our mobile clinic on Monday Sept. 13th

This sweet 8 […]

Us vs. Them

I want to share a special story from our last clinic that not only surprised me, but also caused me to have a good laugh.  When it started, the situation was no laughing matter.  

It was almost the end of another busy clinic when an older model Toyota pick-up pulled up to the entrance. Three large men were squeezed into the cab without an inch of breathing room.  A scared shepherd was tied to the back of the open metal truck bed.  It was a hot morning and I was already feeling the heat when I caught a glimpse of the dog in the back of the truck.   My mind snapped.  I was thinking, “Oh Hell-to-the-no, he isn’t bringing that dog into the clinic like that!”  When I jogged over to talk with the driver, I discovered that attached to the shepherd were two small dogs, cabled from an eye-hook.  My approach was not the best when I greeted him by saying, “Hey, there is no way you guys are going to drive on to this lot with three dogs tied up in the back of your truck.” I went on to explain that not only were their dogs in danger, it was a safety issue for all the other pets and people at the event.  The driver nodded and apologized. He told me he didn’t have another vehicle, didn’t have a cage, and didn’t have money to pay for vaccinations, so that’s why he tied them up like he did.  I asked him why he needed the two other men?  Why couldn’t the dogs ride inside the cab, leaving the men at home? He explained that he, being an older man, could not physically handle the dogs on his own so he brought his two sons along to help.  I acknowledged his effort, and said “Ok, I feel really bad asking you to leave, but your need to back up, go home, bring one dog at a time.”  I also mentioned that the clinic was ending soon and unless he lived really close, we probably couldn’t help him.  He told me he understood, put the truck in reverse, and off they went, sounding like the truck was running out of gas or had some serious engine problem.

Typical thinking pattern for me is to immediately regret telling someone no.  It kind of made me mad that I felt he put me in that position.  My internal conversation began with, What was he thinking? How could I help him if he was a safety hazard? My thoughts continued… he did care about his dogs, and he was really trying. No, there is no way it would have been safe.  Coming from a place of separation, me vs. them, I reverted to old thinking patterns, and convinced myself that I made the right decision.  He drove off, and I assumed that he wouldn’t come back.

About ten minutes goes by and here comes the truck again.  This […]

Mickey the Calico Kitty

I wanted to share a turning point in my life, one where I felt very desperate and alone.  Back in 1995, my calico cat “Mickey” was really sick.  I had no idea what was wrong with her so I got out my Yellow Pages, looked up the closest animal hospital, and made an appointment.  As a college student, I was working full time and living in a makeshift loft in back of a storefront.  To say I a struggling student would have been an understatement.  I remember wrapping Mickey in a towel, placing her in a box, and driving to the hospital.  Upon entering the hospital, I was not greeted but was told  my carrier was inadequate. I remember feeling ashamed.  Finally, it was our turn to see the veterinarian, an older man, who asked me why I, “waited so long to seek care.”  I could feel tears in my eyes as I thought to myself, “He must think I don’t love my cat.”  Then he asked me, “Does she go outside?” I explained she was free to go through an open window and she went out during the day, but always slept with me at night.  I remember him looking down at me, quietly saying that without much money and because I didn’t care about my cat’s safety, there wasn’t much he could offer.  I also remember crying all the way back home.

I did not give up. I found a feline oncologist who agreed to meet with me because I told him my cat had cancer.  I didn’t know what else to do and, thinking that this type of specialty veterinarian was the best, he was my only hope.  The experience at this specialty animal hospital was totally different.  I was warmly greeted, I was given an opportunity to explain my situation, and I was respected and made to feel that my cat mattered.  That I mattered.  I will never forget this experience and will always be grateful to this kind veterinarian who diagnosed and treated Mickey.  She went on to live to be almost 17 years old.
Like so many other people, I was a cat owner who never planned on adopting a pet. I found her at the duplex where I was living.  She was pregnant and I knew I needed to spay her, but where?  I waited in line at the San Gabriel Humane Society to have her vaccinated and spayed.  I think I paid $30 – which seemed like a lot of money at the time.  Mickey liked to be outside so I continued to allow her to climb in and out of my apartment window.  She survived the coyotes in Sierra Madre, the busy street when I lived in Pasadena, and eventually moved to Altadena where she remained indoors most of her senior life.
Maybe that is why when I meet a pet owner, especially one who is young and I see really trying to do what’s best for their pet, I feel a special connection […]

Pet Support Space One Year Anniversary!

July 5th is the one year anniversary of opening our Pet Support Space office on West Florence Ave in South Los Angeles. For many of you who follow DDR on social media, you already know about the more than 500+ pets to whom we provide services each month. To be exact, 3,549 cats and dogs have received services through our program designed to help no-income to low-income pet owners care for their pets. 52% of all cases our counselors see are pets that require some type of veterinary care. Therefore, one of our goals in 2021 was to expand veterinary services.

Because we have an office in a great location, I envisioned opening a scaled-down veterinary clinic in the lobby of our office that would be open once a month and then scale up to once a week. I was considering hiring a veterinarian, RVT, buying supplies, and learning about what it takes to run a clinic. I then had several discussions with Dr. Weinstein, President of the SCVMA, and, through those discussions, I became more aware of just how much I didn’t know. Because I didn’t know!

We needed a solution. Should we raise money and buy a mobile clinic? Reality set in and I decided we needed to find a partner who already owned and operated a mobile clinic. Although I am not letting go of my dream to start a clinic, the path is going to be different than what I imagined, which has always worked out well for me personally and for DDR as an organization.

Today, from 9:30am to 2:30pm, we hosted the first mobile veterinary clinic at our office and provided services to 11 pets (4 cats and 7 dogs). Here are some of the cases:

“Micha” and “Totoro” (who are a little difficult to see in their carriers in these two photos) were flea infested , were not eating, and had never been examined by a veterinarian before receiving care today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2-year-old “Max” had been vomiting and had diarrhea. Worried that he might have an obstruction, our counselor wrote a medical voucher, and sent him to Dr. Vazquez at North Figueroa Animal Hospital where he received x-rays and might need surgery.

“Einstein” came to the mobile clinic because he was overwhelmed and not too friendly at our last drive-thru vaccination clinic. He received a rabies booster so that his owner could renew his dog license.

“Snoopy” and his person, Alex, have been in our Pet Resource Center program for Skid Row pets more than five years. Over the years, DDR made it possible for Snoopy to receive ongoing veterinary care. Alex phoned counselor Amanda when he became concerned about hots spots that had developed all over Snoopy’s little body.

11-year-old […]

Vulnerability

Dr. Ramirez owner of Los Angeles Veterinary Center, volunteers every month.

Some of the most beautiful things to happen in my life recently have come from being more present.  I have had to learn how to stop thinking, “This is too good to be true” or ,”It might be going good now, but just wait, the bad times are always just around the corner”. Writing this blog post to share the success of our monthly pet clinic with the SCVMA as well as to share some of the moments that touched my heart, causing me to reflect on the many blessings in my life.  I am grateful to be in a state of mind where I am able to have an opinion, such as the importance of spaying and neutering pets, without obsessing on how to reach others so that they may share my opinion.  The reality is, and always has been, not everyone is ready or will ever be ready to agree with my viewpoint – and that’s okay.  The majority of pet owners truly want what is best for their cat or dog and are open to learning how to accomplish that goal.

Two of the nearly 200 pets who came to our clinic on Sunday arrived in an Access Van.  Both had to use walkers and had their cats in carriers. I could see that the cats were nervous so we found a safe spot for them to wait until a veterinarian could meet with them.  Upon examining one of the cats, the veterinarian stated the cat was ill and suffering greatly. The kindest option would be humane euthanasia.  Amanda, our senior counselor at the Pet Support Space, took the time to explain the process and to listen to the cat owner who, understandably, was really upset.  Amanda coordinated a plan for humane euthanasia.  I watched from a distance as vet techs hugged and comforted the owner during her time of loss. We may not have known each other well, but we all know what it is like to say goodbye to a beloved pet who is suffering. Everyone involved allowed themselves to be vulnerable in the moment, shedding tears because they genuinely cared.

A similar case  involved an 18-year-old Chihuahua. I had been texting with the dog owner’s daughter who explained to me that her mother, who was battling cancer, felt she just could not give up on her senior dog even though he was struggling to eat, could no longer walk, and was most likely suffering.  The family realized their little dog was near the end of her life, but it was important to get a professional veterinary opinion and ask some questions.  Unfortunately, they could not afford a veterinary exam.  As she drove into the clinic, I greeted her and walked her over to the station where she would receive the free veterinary exam.  I don’t know what the outcome was because there were more […]

Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength

 

Senior dog Bernadette @ DDR kennel

As I write this blog post at my desk in the DDR kennel, I hear a few of the dogs barking, reminding me  as if I need a reminder) that dinner time is now!  My turn to take care of the dogs is every evening, except Sundays when Noemi takes over.  The nightly routine of feeding and preparing them all for bed gives my life purpose.  I never tire of seeing how excited the dogs get just before the food bowls come out of the kitchen.  Their unwavering trust in me and all of their wonderful daily caregivers (Jenny, Shyann, Debbie, and Daniel) is constantly displayed by their wagging tails, zoomies, and puppy-like energy, even in the senior dogs.

Kobe has been in our adoption program 3+ years

I appreciate our kennel crew, not just for the work they do with the dogs, but also the opportunity they offer me to grow spiritually as I learn to trust people more, one day at a time. Writing my thoughts really reminds me that I have always had trust issues which prevented me from experiencing all the joy in life that I deserve. Until recently, I did not understand that I could be happy on a daily basis. There was always part of me preparing for the time when someone was going to disappoint me or let me down.  That is what I believed most people did if I allowed them into my life.  

Growing up with a father who was diagnosed as bipolar, I learned to be quiet, helpful, and kind, and not to cause problems.  I never trusted anyone to be there for me when I needed help. From an early age, it was always easier to take care of everything on my own as this gave me a sense of control over my life. No matter how much my dad tried to be “normal”, he couldn’t. Violent mood swings followed by depression resulted in an often chaotic existence. The one solid part of my life was my German Shepherd, Heidi, who was always there for me – in good and bad times – licking away my tears and making me laugh.  She and I had a magical bond that no one understood.

Maybe that is the reason I have always had a fascination and love for dogs since I was four years old.  Dogs are exactly who they are.  They do not make promises they won’t keep.  As anyone who has ever lived with a pet knows, their love for us is unconditional, as is their trust in us. I always wished I could trust people as a dog does rather than the person I grew up to be.  Even when someone has “proven their loyalty” to me over months or even years, there has always been a thought in my mind that perhaps this will not […]

Being of Service While Providing Services

As I sit down to write this blog post, I am very happy to be part of a team that loaded 35 cats and dogs onto the Spay4LA mobile clinic to be spayed and neutered this morning.  My day did not start as planned as I overslept by an hour. I woke at 5:00 am thanks to Fender barking and wanting to go outside.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, rushing around and trying to do multiple things at once, I am at a place in my life where I can accept that this is what is happening now and all is well.  I arrived at the clinic to see a line of cars parked down the street waiting for me to let them inside the gate.  I have to admit, I felt a rush of anxiety seeing everyone waiting for me. I took a deep breath and remembered that all is well. Instead of feeling rushed and anxious, I was able to feel centered and greet the first pet owner waiting patiently to drive in with her cat (she listened to instructions and had him safe in a carrier).  Then, it was on to the next car, truck, van, and so forth. The reality of the situation was that they were never waiting for “me”. The people in the line of cars were there because they could not afford to get their cats and dogs spayed or neutered.

As more families arrived and their pets checked in, it was clear to me that everyone was grateful for the free services DDR was providing.  Some pet owners expressed how grateful they were for help from our counselors to obtain appointments.  A few had no appointment but, amazingly, Spay4LA was able to accommodate all but one cat and one dog as there was no more space aboard the mobile clinic.

Most of the pet owners had been to DDR’s free drive-thru vaccination clinic last Sunday where we provided services to 138 pets. Today, some of those pet owners returned to get their pet sterilized. You might wonder, Why do they wait when there are so many free and low cost options to get pets spayed and neutered? While a percentage of our clients can go online using their phone or tablet to fill out applications, most do not own a computer or smart phone. The confusion of how to apply for a voucher, how to qualify, what a co-pay is, and not being able to prove they live in certain zip code, their ID was lost or stolen, their wages are paid in cash, or they do not have an income to document they are low income, are just some of the barriers to getting more pets spayed and neutered.

Today, we had a pet owner with two dogs who is part of the Project Room Key program. He and his dogs had to take two buses in the early morning hours to arrive at 6:00 am to get his male and female dogs sterilized. The […]

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