About Debbie Fan

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So far Debbie Fan has created 39 blog entries.

Phoebe – A story of hope



Last Monday, I received a Facebook message from the son of a dog owner who wrote, “Please help me I’m desperate. I barely had just under enough for a consultation and no vets would take me. I checked all over the place.”  Thankfully, he didn’t wait for my response via Facebook Messenger, he called our Pet Support Space Office, and was able to speak directly with one of our counselors.

4-year-old Phoebe had been hit by a car. Phoebe’s owner and her son were homeless, living in their vehicle when Phoebe accidentally got out of the car.  Upon finding her lying on the pavement, the son knew Phoebe was seriously injured. With no money and no support from family or friends who could loan him money, he started reaching out – calling animal hospitals and checking prices. He even started a Facebook fundraiser to try to save Phoebe’s life before finding DDR.

DDR counselor Amanda learned of the severity of Phoebe’s injuries and immediately arranged for Phoebe to be examined by a veterinarian.  Thanks to the generosity of our friends at Animal Wellness Foundation, we were able to get treatment for her injuries and three days of hospitalization.  The total cost for her hospitalization and care was $612.  We paid $400 and the Animal Wellness Foundation covered $212.

Upon releasing Phoebe from the animal hospital, it was a difficult decision for all of us to make to let Phoebe return to her family because she still needed continued care, but her family was more than capable of administering medication and keeping a watchful eye over her.  My first thought when I listened to Counselor Amanda explain this case was to take control, insist Phoebe go into a foster home while she recovered, or have another round of medical boarding.  We worried about the heat and how they would manage. However, trusting that her family loves her and only wants the best for her, we remained open to the plan of her going “home”. But, I wanted to know more. What led them to becoming homeless? Are they looking for housing? Is it fair to put Phoebe back with her family when they are living in a car during this heat wave?

When I work directly or indirectly with a pet owner who is trying so hard to do everything right, and I can see how dedicated they are to their pet, I consciously have to remind myself that the pet owner(s) will allow change when they are ready for change. We can provide resources and options and when they are ready for the change to come into their life, DDR will be there. It’s not my responsibility to fix their problems or to impose my idea of what is best on them, because what I think is best, may not be the best solution.

After Phoebe went back to her family, they truly did the best they could considering the situation they were living in. They realized they needed […]

Tribute to Diamond

As many of you supporters know, we have two hotlines to leave messages, an office phone number where counselors take calls Monday – Saturday, but I bet not many of you knew that I use my phone to receive text messages for help.  The pet owners who text me are often experiencing homelessness, and text me at all hours of the day.  Surprisingly, very few text me outside of normal business hours.  Usually, pet owners want to know where they can get services, and I never hear from them again. Then there are the pet owners who text me often, sometimes to let me know they are ok, other times to let me know that they need someone to text them messages of support and hope because they are feeling alone and hopeless. Worse case scenario, I receive a text from a friend, letting me know that a pet owner has passed away, and they need us to find a home for the pet of the deceased client.

I remember getting the text from Diamond’s owner around 5:00AM on June 10th, letting me know that he had died.  For the past month, we all knew that Diamond was ill, diagnosed with high proteins in his liver.  He was not able to keep food down, and had been vomiting.  In fact, Diamond had another appointment at the animal hospital the day he died.  Counselor Amanda called his owner, and learned that she had walked to the animal hospital with his body, and had waited outside until the hospital opened because she wanted to make sure to have his body cremated.

Diamond’s owner sent me a text the following day. ” Thank you SO very much for all you’ve done for my Fur-Baby Diamond & I. Far most important to myself is being here for me in my time of need and wrenching loss.”                                                 Sometimes there is no one who understands what it’s like to grieve after the death of a pet, especially when one is homeless.  I continued to check in with her via text to see how she was doing, and to make sure she understood that she had people who cared.  The loss threw her into a deep depression. As she opened up to me, she explained that she had a devastating loss in 2006, losing two adult children in a bus accident.  She told me that people around her didn’t get why she was still so sad, telling her, “He was only a dog.”  For her and everyone at DDR there is no such thing as “only a dog”. We understand, our dogs are our family. Being together 24/7, she didn’t need to explain their bond to me.

I’m happy to report that I received another text recently, thanking all of the […]

Pet Support Space is now open

I want to share some good news with all of you who have supported DDR, and for those new supporters who are learning about our programs.

We opened our new office, called the Pet Support Space (PSS), on July 4th.  Because the South LA Shelter is still closed to the public, except by appointment, we needed a space to continue to assist pet owners who have no where to turn in a crisis.

Our office is staffed with two counselors, six days a week, Monday – Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm or by appointment.  We are offering all of the same veterinary services, and more by combining our Shelter Intervention Program with services from our Pet Resource Center program, including pro bono legal assistance, access to services for pet owners experiencing homelessness, free spay and neuter, grooming on site via a mobile groomer, and so much more.  Post COVID, our goal is to incorporate mental health services, creating peer led support groups, and eventually mental health care vouchers for those who pet owners suffering from the effects of trauma, who cannot access counseling.  All of our services are created to conform with the trauma informed care model.

Due to COVID, turning most of our work “upside down”, we had to get creative, looking for ways to keep both our counselors and pet owners safe.  At our office, it serves as a pet food pantry, crisis counseling for pets who are extremely ill and / or injured, and a place where pet owners who feel isolated can connect with people who care about them and their pets.

We continue to work with LAAS staff and volunteers, who refer pet owners in need to our program.  During business hours, counselors are there to listen and problem solve immediately.  The way in which we provide services might have changed but our goal of keeping families with their pets remains.

In less than a month, our counselors met with 149 pet owners providing the following services: 3% contacted our office because they had a senior dog that could not walk, wasn’t eating, was terminally ill and required humane euthanasia instead of being surrendered to the shelter.  48% needed financial assistance and a treatment plan for a pet with medical issues ranging from emergencies to chronic skin and ear infections. 1% needed legal assistance to prevent being illegally evicted from their home due to their pet.  19% needed access to get their dog or cat spayed or neutered.  28% required pet food.

I remember speaking to a woman who explained that she ran out of pet food and was feeding her dog “people food” but she wasn’t going to be able to do that much longer because it would take food away from her and her daughter.  By the end of each month, she was out of food for the whole family.  Another elderly woman pulled up at our office, driving a car that looked as if she might be living in her […]

Senior Dog Buster Needs a Special Foster Home + Hospice Care

Buster, who is currently living at our kennel, needs hospice care in a home. Can you help us by fostering Buster for the weeks or months he has left to live? We knew when we rescued this sweet senior dog that he had medical issues, but we didn’t know how serious.  While living at the South Los Angeles shelter, the staff adored him, but they could not figure out what was wrong with him.  He was vomiting and had diarrhea for weeks. The medical staff at the shelter did the best they could to treat him, but could not diagnosis his condition. When we pulled him from the shelter, we sent him to Alondra Animal Hospital for tests and observation. He was referred to a specialist who gave us the sad news that Buster has a mass on his spleen and hemangiosarcoma.  Right now, he is a happy dog, who has  mostly good days. He has a good appetite, is happy to go on short walks, and loves to snuggle in one of his three beds while living at our kennel in his senior suite. We are looking for someone in the Los Angeles, who does not have other pets, or can keep him separated so that he can rest (he is NOT dog aggressive). We would provide veterinarian care and medication Are you able to give Buster a loving home?  

Giving Tuesday

Some of the DDR dogs got all dressed up for the holidays to remind everyone it’s Giving Tuesday.  At the end of each year, we ask for your support to help us continue the work that we do all year long.

2019 was another busy year for us.

To date, our Shelter Intervention Program has prevented more than 13,000 cats and dogs from entering the South Los Angeles Shelter because our counselors provide low income pet owners with a variety of services and resources six days a week, with a goal of keeping people and pets together.

Our Pet Resource Center for the Skid Row community of pet owners has provided services for more than 3500 pet owners who are homeless or extremely low income, living with their cats or dogs. Thanks to a partnership with LA Animal Services, ASPCA, Inner City Law Center, we now offer veterinary care on site, once a month, often seeing more than 100 pets in a day!

With the success of the Skid Row Pet Resource Center, we expanded to Watts in 2019, and plan on expanding this model to other locations in 2020. We know that if we invest in spaying and neutering more cats and dogs, providing supportive veterinary care, and other services and supplies, we can keep more pets out of the shelter system and with the people who love them.

With a focus of rescuing shelter dogs that require medical care and senior dogs, we continue to be committed to rescuing the dogs that are overlooked by the public.

Please consider making an online donation today –

Kobe has been waiting two years for someone to adopt him.

Senior dog Big Donut was rescued from the South LA Shelter when his owner died

Senior Dog Bruno’s owner died and now he is looking for his second forever home.

Shy Stella is hoping for a home for holidays

Felicity, Big Donut, Kobe, Stella, Bruno, and all of the DDR adoptable dogs and volunteers THANK YOU!!!

Race for the Rescues is Saturday October 12th!

Big Donut is gearing up for the biggest race of his life on Saturday October 12th

BIG Donut has been busy trying on costumes, working on his leash skills in order to prepare for our big fundraiser Race for the Rescues.  DDR is one of many dog rescues, all walking and running to save more shelter dogs, like Big Donut.

This year, we have dedicated our fundraising to our senior dog adoption program.  When we rescue a senior dog, we typically spend $1500 to $3000 + for medical care.

Shelter dogs like Astria, who needed a major life saving surgery, now have loving homes because of your support.  When we decide to rescue a dog from the shelter, we look for the under dogs, the senior dogs, the dogs that have spent months waiting for someone to adopt them.

Astria was adopted after having a major surgery to remove cancerous tumors. She spent over a year at the North Central Shelter before we rescued her. 


Sometimes, we can’t save them, despite a surgery. We all hoped that Phoebe would recover from her surgery, and get adopted.  Sadly, she was full of cancer, and did not find an adopter before she died.  During the brief time that she spent with us, she lived in one of our senior suites, had multiple dog beds, lots of volunteers who spent time with her, made sure that she was comfortable up to the last day of her life.

Sweet Phoebe did not survive. Her surgery revealed that her cancerous tumors had spread throughout her body.














Can you help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that we can continue to rescue more senior shelter dogs?  Check out our page here 


Please donate to the DDR team, even if you can’t come out to walk.  All of the DDR dogs and volunteers

THANK YOU for your support!



Race for the Rescues SAVE 15% this weekend

See you at Race for the Rescues!

Big Donut, our team mascot, wants everyone to know that there’s a 15% discount if  you register this weekend.
Here is the link to our team page, where you can sign up.
Register by midnight September 3rd SAVE 15%.
To help us save more senior dogs with medical issues like Big Donut, a cancer survivor, JOIN OUR TEAM, and set a goal of raising $500 or more.
WE REALLY need everyone to bring awareness to our mission, and help us raise funds to pay for all the life saving programs that DDR runs 365 days a year.  It’s in the last quarter of the year that we raise most of the funds that pay for an entire year of programs.
If you support free spay and neuter, keeping pets with their families, rescuing the shelter underdogs, help us get to our goal!
Big Donut will see you at the Race, and yes he will be dressed up and serving donuts!


Forever Fosters Save Lives

Gemma a former South LA Shelter medical dog

Reo the day he found out he was adopted!

It’s with great sadness that we received the news that Reo aka Oreo crossed the rainbow bridge.  His forever foster family gave him the best five months of life. He was a loved family member, and went on great adventures with his pack.

We all knew when we rescued this special dog, his time with us would be months, maybe a couple years if we were lucky, due to a large tumor that turned out to be thyroid cancer.

He had a very extensive surgery that removed all the cancer, at that point in time, but the cancer came back. His amazing family has already expressed interest in bringing another senior dog into their home.

As the City of Los Angeles shelters are able to find more and more homes for puppies, small dogs, young healthy dogs, it’s the senior dogs and the dogs with medical issues that often are the most overlooked and do not get adopted.  Therefore, when we search for dogs to join our adoption program, we look for the true underdogs.

Recently we took two new dogs, Astria and Phoebe.  Both dogs required surgeries to remove mammary tumors.  Astria’s surgery was so extensive, she required over a week of hospitalization.  Phoebe was alerted, with less than 24 hours before she was scheduled to be euthanized, we decided to bring her into our adoption program.

Both dogs are a great example of how LAAS shelter staff and rescue work together to save lives!

8 year old Astria spent over a year in the shelter

In order to save more senior shelter dogs, we need more forever foster homes.  To become a DDR forever foster, you open your home and your heart to one of our senior dogs who might not have a lot of life left to live.  Give them the best months or final years of their lives, and we cover the medical costs when you take them to our approved animal hospitals where we have accounts in place.

You could make it possible for us to save another dog like Phoebe, a dog that had hours at the shelter before being scheduled to be euthanized.  To see all of our adoptable dogs, check out our dogs for adoption, and fill out our questionnaire.  Let us know that you want to forever foster, and we will match you with a wonderful senior dog.

If you can’t foster, you can donate to help us cover the cost of each senior dog’s medical care.

On average, it costs $1100 or more for surgery, hospitalization and follow up care.  Thank you for your support!

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