Wildlife Refuge and Rescue
A 501(c)3 Not-For-Profit Animal Assistance Charitable Organization
KWR&R raises donations for abandoned & injured animals & helps pay emergency hospital & spay & neutering costs for pets, too.
If you love animals, please consider making a donation, as all outreach activities are funded by donations only and 100% of donations go towards animal expenses. There is no such thing as a donation too big or too small, and for as little as $10 per month, you are invited to be a part of something great and wonderful to help animals and their owners and rescuers everywhere! No creatures forgotten!
Creating An Oasis
|Lucky Titan Of The Desert
How Far Can You Reach?
The Cycle Of Life
|For The Love Of Animals
In Memory of Luana
Left Behind Pup
Kitty’s Wildlife Refuge & Rescue
“When all co-operating components come together, manifestation happens.”
The mission of KWR&R is to support all wildlife in the surrounding area in the form of food, water, shelter, shade, and medical attention when needed. KWR&R will also help provide placement and medical assistance to other animals that are rescued in this or any other area by any individual or good Samaritan who is so moved to help any of our animal friends. It is also the goal of this organization to provide financial assistance for low cost spay and neutering for pet owners. It is estimated that between 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States each year. Please spay and neuter and vaccinate your pets for the well being of animals everywhere.
Paradise Ranch has been a refuge to wildlife long before my son & I came here in 1994. When we first looked at this property searching for a new home of our own, the present owners informed us that they could not sell this 5 acre parcel to anyone who was not going to live here year around. Many people in this area around Palm Springs are “snowbirds” - residents who come from the Northern states & Canada & even European countries during the winter months only. There has been a tortoise sanctuary here since the days of the original homestead, and in the summer, when many residents go back home to their cooler summer climates, the tortoises come out of hibernation in to their sanctuary and need to be fed and cared for. Chris & I just looked at each other with big eyes and raised eyebrows. This was perfect for us. Not only were we not going anywhere for the summer or a very long time, as it turned out, but we are big animal lovers, too. It was a match, and we have been here ever since.
There are other exciting things going on in the summer after winter visitors go home and all year long for that matter, too. Paradise Ranch sits underneath a bird migratory corridor, stretching across the Northern Coachella Valley and below Joshua Tree National Park in a remote unincorporated area called Sky Valley. The migration of all different kinds of birds, including geese and vultures is truly something amazing to behold. We have the same songbirds, or at least their offspring, come here every spring to build their nests and raise their babies before they fly off again. There are also hundreds & hundreds of year around residents like us, such as quail, dove, finches, cactus wrens, mocking birds, hawks, crows, eagles, owls, humming birds, road runners, cotton tail & jack rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, geckos, coyotes, and of course snakes. Supposedly there are bob cats, but we have never seen one. We did have an ocelot show up in a tree one day, but he was definitely an escapee from someone or somewhere else. We have had other escapees show up, too, like parrots and cockatoos and egrets and peacocks. There is also a very sad and desperate band of abandoned dogs that run together and try to survive.
The desert is a very harsh and intense environment that demands incredible will and survival skills on a daily basis, which is kind of where Paradise Ranch comes in. It truly is a refuge and sanctuary to all of these animals.
In the past 17 years, Chris has planted over 45 trees, mostly Casurinas pine trees that are now grown up and tall and provide lots of shade and nesting for the various birds. There are over 12 “watering stations” that fill up automatically when the watering systems come on. Bird seed for the hundreds of different birds and carrots for the bunnies and jack rabbits and dog food for the stray dogs and coyotes and turkey dogs for the roadrunners are put out everyday for those that are still alive each new morning. This desert habitat environment that provides shade and water and a little food is very inviting to the wildlife or abandoned desert inhabitants that are without of these necessities, and this is what makes Paradise Ranch the sanctuary that it is.
Coachella Valley Preserve
About 4 miles away is a
naturally occurring similar environment at The Coachella Valley Preserve. This is an area along the San
Andreas Fault where the two tectonic plates, The Mountain and The
Pacific, pass by each other, creating a fissure where mineral water seeps up to
the surface. Actually, all along this
fault line is naturally occurring hot mineral water, which is why this area is
so famous for its hot mineral water springs in so many of the resorts out here. However, if you want the use of that water,
you have to drill for it, except for this one particular area now known as The
Coachella Valley Preserve, where the water seeps to the surface along the fault
line between these two plates for about a mile.
Around this water are brushes and willow trees and an ancient stand of
towering palm trees that are so thick the sun never gets through to the desert
floor, with even ferns and moss occurring underneath – a true oasis in the
desert, especially to the large population of wildlife that lives in and around
there. There is even a very specific
species of little fish that is able to live in this warm mineral water, and
they are called “pup fish,” because their faces look like little pups. Amazing!
Several months ago, after standing there for hundreds of years, a huge portion of this natural oasis burned to the ground. I guess it is suspected that the fire was started by homeless people camping there, too, but the loss is irreplaceable. Now, the wildlife that depended on this area for their survival are homeless, too. What is left of this portion of the oasis is the charred skeleton trunks where this ancient stand of palms trees once were, and it is a heartbreaking sight.
My Decision to Create the Wildlife Refuge & Rescue
Up until 1 ½ years ago, I had one very generous benefactor to the wildlife rescue project at Paradise Ranch, who was also a contributor to Wildlife Ambassadors for the lions & tigers when I was doing fund raising for them. This special woman, Barbara, was also my dear friend for over 30 years, so when she passed, the loss was great to me personally and the wildlife project here. I have been struggling along, trying to maintain this natural habitat and rescue starving and injured animals on my own ever since. Combined with the aforementioned circumstances above, I reached a couple more defining moments.
There was a wild feral black
cat living here in the desert for the past 8 years. He was quite the hunter, and after working
with the lions & tigers, I appreciated his hunting and survival skills all
the more, considering that he was not the King of the Jungle here, but just a skinny
little kitty cat surviving in the land of coyotes and a harsh desert
environment. He had a territory that
encompassed Paradise Ranch and a couple of surrounding properties, and he
freely and miraculously traversed back and forth. I know many people with “inside cats” out
here in this remote area that when they would escape their house (the cats, not
the people) even only once, they would never make it through even one night out
on their own. So the fact that this
particular cat could survive 8 years out there on his own in the open desert was
surely a miracle and a huge testament to his intelligence and prowess. I was going to say luck, but luck is making
it through one night. Eight years is
I called him “Kitty Boy” and
the neighbors had their own names for him, but he did not belong to any of
us. He belonged to himself. After a couple of years surviving on his
hunting skills only, he got a little “domesticated” – as domesticated as he was
ever going to get, and he succumbed to my offer of a little half & half and
some cat treats in the morning. I was
never able to touch or pet him. Out of
respect for his being, I never pushed him past where he was comfortable and
considered it an honor that he trusted me enough to come up for his treats, and
he was always waiting for me in the mornings, meowing and pacing if I was a few
minutes late. When it was cold and
raining in the winter, I would prop the shed door open and place his food and
water and bed and even a litter box inside where it was dry.
This was our relationship for all those many years, and it was perfect and didn’t need to be any thing more. In fact, there were times when I would be struggling with something in life, and I would go out to feed him in the morning and just be amazed and inspired at his survival skills and quiet magnificence, which would set me on a firmer and more hopeful path for the rest of the day.
A couple of months ago, a whole week went by without him showing up. I was accustomed to him sometimes not showing up for a few days at a time. Of course, no one could ever catch him to get him neutered, so he had to follow some escapades when they called once in awhile. I used to worry much about him crossing the open desert, though, when he was following a scent to adventure. There were more than a few nights that I would hear the coyotes howling in the middle of the night, and I would leap out of bed and run out to make sure they weren’t after Kitty Boy. One night they actually were after him, and he was meowing and howling like crazy. He had made it back to the neighbors’ stand of Tamarisk trees (over 100 yards across the open desert away from my place), but the coyotes were still after him. So there I was in my pajamas in the night chasing off the coyotes. Whenever he came back from one of these “cat vacations,” he would be all skinny and scraggly and very hungry, in deed! I would mention switching travel agents, and he would ignore me. I was always so relieved when he was back, but now another week went by.
Then one morning I got a call
from my neighbor who said Sylvester
(his name for the cat) was running underneath the oleanders over there,
dragging a trap that was caught on his foot.
Could I come help catch him?
Well, neither one of us had ever touched him before, and now we had to
try to catch him to save his life. We
tried for over an hour and could not do it, and all the while of our efforts,
he was dragging a trap on his little paw that was bigger than him and weighed
more than him. I thought his foot was
going to come right off every time he got it caught on a branch. We called in more help from two more
neighbors, and finally between the four of us were able to corner him and throw
a blanket on top of him. I expected more
of a fight from the sheer terror of being touched, but at that moment he
collapsed into the rescue.
At one point
when my neighbor was in calling the others, I was lying on my belly under a
massive oleander bush with my face only 2 feet from his face, and I started
meowing like when I first saw him in the morning, and he was meowing back like
he always did. With tears streaming down
my cheeks, I begged him to let me help him.
He was just staring at me, but did not know how to traverse those two
feet – that path just did not exist in his wild cat mind, and he did the only
thing he knew how to do, which was run to save his life, dragging that heavy
iron trap the whole way.
The only time I got to hold him in my arms was right before I laid him in his grave as we all gathered around to grieve our loss and celebrate his magnificent cat spirit.
It was a weekend, a typical spring Saturday morning. I got up extra early to do my chores, because I was meeting an old friend for lunch from the ABC Talkradio days whom I had not seen in 22 years. While I was out hurrying through chores, there was a squirrel out past the corral just going "nuts" doing his warning call - a sharp chirping that has its own echo built in on the end. Usually when this happens, it means a coyote is walking up out of the desert, and a minute later, sure enough, I would see him come up to one of the watering stations. All of the animals out here, especially the bunnies, depend on these self-appointed sentries for their warning calls. That old saying about "eat your carrots to make you see better" sure doesn't help the bunnies. They can't see very well at all! When I throw the carrots down, they have to hear them drop and smell them to find them. They have great smelling and hearing, but useless eyesight. So, they really depend on the squirrels that are up on branches and can see farther to give them a warning that a predator is on the way in, and this is especially handy on noisy windy days. Great warning system! But, no coyote came that day, and the squirrel still would not stop. I was in a hurry and left to go have lunch with Mary. When I got back several hours later, the squirrel was still at it, so I got up and walked out to see what I could see.
There was a little puppy
crouched down by the corral, timid and covered in flies. He looked up at
me, and it seemed as if his eyes were half of his body, because the rest of him
was so tiny, boney, and wasted. I moved
towards him slowly. I did not want to
scare him away. As it turned out, he was
too weak to run away, and when I picked him up, it was like picking up a
stuffed animal; there was no weight to him at all.
He was covered in wounds and blood and dirt,
and the flies were on him everywhere. It
was obvious he had been attacked by a coyote.
Considering the severe wounds on the back of his neck and under his throat,
he had probably been mistaken in the middle of the night for a rabbit, and he was just that tiny. It was Saturday afternoon, my vet was closed,
I was not sure I could afford the "animal emergency hospital" fees,
and so I just cleaned him up and brought him in the house to get him away from the flies and feed him and keep
him safe until Monday morning.
By the next morning I could see that he was not going to make it one more hour much less one more day, so we drove him “Cruella Deville style” to the animal emergency hospital to try to save his life. He had over a dozen severe bite wounds (all were already full of maggots), 4 fractured ribs, and a bruised and collapsed lung. They had to put him on an IV for antibiotics & rehydration and oxygen overnight to re-inflate his lung. I was originally worried about the $155 office visit fee! By the time I picked him up after his triage & x-rays & blood work & IVs and oxygen tank along with his antibiotics & pain meds & cleansing solutions for his wounds 2 days later, the bill was over $2000! Ha! I had to apply for a CARE credit card right then & there & have a big laugh over my worry about a $155 fee!
Then the real work began for
Britni, my Mom, and me, with 24/7 care for 2 weeks – it was like bringing a
newborn home. I had the overnight shift,
with different antibiotics and pain meds given at all different times, and
there were severe “night terrors” those first few nights. Without his pain
meds, he couldn’t breathe or eat or drink or sleep or stand. Because of all the bite wounds, there was no
place on his little body left where we could pet him except right between his
eyes and a small place on his upper tummy, and even though he only weighed 13
pounds, he had to be picked up very carefully because of the fractures and
Even Disco, Chris' 2 year old male lab, helped by constantly licking the deep bite wounds, which kept them open and draining - an absolute necessity to prevent more infection. I had rescued many, many animals in my life, but none as
bad off as this little guy. What a
little warrior, which is where his name eventually came from: Titan. At the hospital he was “the puppy with no
name,” and when he came home, we were so busy caring for him and really did not
know for sure if he was going to make it or not. Then as the days went by, he slowly, slowly
started recovering. My Mom and Uncle
Jerry both thought he should be named Lucky, but Britni didn’t think he was so
lucky. Titan the Warrior seemed to fit
this tiny pint-sized warrior survivor, and so he became Lucky Titan of The Desert – Titan
He had been shaved every
place there was a bite wound or where he had an IV, so at one point he looked
like a checker board – like the first time you cut your own hair when you were
3 years old, but he went from survivor to thriver, his hair started growing in,
he was gaining weight, and as the weeks went by the most amazing personality
emerged. He is now happy, healthy, full
of life and energy and attitude, and I cannot imagine my life or the world
without this dog in it. It is such a joy
to watch him run and play and finally hear his bark. Titan
In calling around for
assistance with Titan’s medical expenses, something I had never done before, I
found out how many people and organizations are trying to help and just how
little help there is available. There
are different organizations that specialize in different things: only little
dogs, only cats, a network of foster homes until animals can be adopted, a man
who is taking in all kinds of injured and abandoned animals, but won’t allow
them to be adopted because that would compete with adoption efforts at “kill
facilities” (therefore taking on lifetime care costs on his own), “kill facilities” (like city and county run
pounds) that are not allowed to turn any animals away, but then have to turn
around and euthanize en mass because of lack of space. The information was daunting, but not daunting
enough to not try to do something and help.
This is the reason that KWR&R was created and is not only about “wild”
animals. The importance of spaying and
neutering simply cannot be overstated, but sometimes someone who owns or
rescues an animal cannot afford to do this – even the low cost programs.
KWR&R will extend its reach as far as possible to help with
these costs, no matter where the need is, and partner with all of these
organizations and individuals to assist animals in any and all ways
possible. How far is the reach? That depends on you. In reading Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief, he talks about how
each one of us is comprised of over 50 trillion co-operating cells – not
competing (survival of the fittest), but co-operating, and that’s how all of
what we see and who we are came to be. KWR&R is an organization of co-operating animal lovers that operates exactly the same way, with each participating donor an integral part of the support and help for animals everywhere.
The co-operating components of KWR&R are each and everyone who joins together in love and compassion and donates for this cause, and 100% of all donations will go directly to animal care. I will be donating my time to co-ordinate the efforts and extend the reach. In fact, I still have to do something to “make a living,” so that I can continue to do this for the animals! I encourage you to call me (#760-251-2521) or go to MacrameByKitty.com and order a macramé plant hanger, so I can pay the mortgage next month, too! Most of all, my passion is to help these animals as much as possible, and it will be a pleasure and team effort with every caring person who becomes a part of Kitty’s Wildlife Refuge & Rescue.
Besides Kitty Boy, I had recently put 2 of my older rescue dogs, Lady and Red, to sleep for different reasons, and they had been a part of my family for 15 years. My first rescue dog was Buffy, who I found as a puppy at Dog Creek Pond (no kidding) in Iowa 42 years ago, and she became my constant shadow and traveling companion for 16 years. I did not think I would ever recover from losing her, but the heart is an amazing thing. I have found that one animal can never replace another one. They each have their own individual personalities and places in our hearts, and each one brings their own special version of joy. I have been blessed this way over and over, and anyone who is an animal lover knows exactly what I mean.
The incredibly large population of abandoned dogs in this area are barely living suffering and miserable lives. They are starving to death or getting injured and dieing slow painful deaths from gangrene and maggots and other injuries. I will never forget the smell of Titan that first night I kept him here. He was completely impacted with maggots, and he smelled like death. I will never forget that smell. I have no way of catching and helping these poor abandoned dogs, yet. The best I can do is catch the pups who can't keep up when the pack runs through or get lucky enough to find an abandoned litter before the pups die. I have kept and raised 7 of these pups myself, plus 2 older dogs, and adopted out the rest. A typical desert day of 110 degrees means that the radiating heat off the desert floor can be 135 degrees. There is no shade or water anywhere. I have plans with raised funds to get a humane cage/trap to start catching these animals one by one and get them help or humanely end their suffering if they can't be adopted or saved. All I can do in the meantime is keep water out there for every creature who needs it, and all water containers get completely emptied twice every day. The water bill for the animals and trees doubles in the summer time!
Kitty's Wildlife Refuge & Rescue at Paradise Ranch has over 12 “automatic watering stations” for animal wildlife
Has over 150 trees
Uses 75 lbs of birdseed per week
Uses 150 lbs of carrots per week
Uses 70 lbs of wild dog & coyote food per week
Uses 15 heads of lettuce, kale, and spinach per week
Uses 4 packages of turkey dogs for the road runners per week
Is currently feeding, watering, and caring for
5 rescue dogs, 3 desert tortoises, over 2 dozen coyotes and abandoned wild dogs, 2 wild cats, several dozen cotton tail & jack rabbits, and hundreds of resident & migrating birds
Has a large pond for migrating birds & wildlife under construction (dug out, but not finished & filled)
Long term goal, after food & water & medical costs, is to put up a "tortoise cam" in the turtle sanctuary, a "bunny cam" in their daily frolicking area, and a "coyote cam" in the area where all the coyotes and wild dogs have their food & watering stations and stream all of this live 24/7.