Jan 21, 200806:33 PMThe Life
Orphan Pet Oasis in North Palm Springs offers a sanctuary for animals
The Humane Society of the Desert, Orphan Pet Oasis currently provides a home for 136 dogs -- putting the facility at full capacity -- and every one of them knows to heal and sit!
Training is essential for these orphaned animals, according to President Malinda Bustos, because it makes the pets more adoptable. When Bustos joined the Humane Society board four years ago, she initiated an overhaul of the no-kill facility that included rebuilding, replanting, and most importantly, rehabilitating the animals.
"Now we truly are an animal sanctuary," she says. "When a dog is adopted and leaves us, he always stops at the gate. They don't want to leave -- this is their home." The orphans arrive at the Oasis in North Palm Springs in various ways. Many of them have been rescued from other shelters, and many are discarded at the gates of the facility.
"There are times when this isn't a glamorous place," Bustos admits. "We see some horrible abuse cases, dogs abandoned, puppies thrown in boxes over our fence. But on the flip side it's so rewarding because they just blossom here and find a beautiful home." Fortunately, she doesn't work alone. She relies on the efforts of volunteers and other members of the community to accomplish her mission: to "rescue, heal and adopt for life."
Lori Wainio, owner and head trainer of Dream Dogs, a professional dog training service, has trained nearly a dozen dogs for the Pet Oasis since becoming involved with the organization more than a year ago. Wainio, a graduate of Moorpark College's Exotic Animal Training program, with degrees in animal training and wildlife education, has worked as a trainer on television and movie sets, and at the Cincinnati Zoo and the Living Desert in Coachella Valley. Her approach to animal training is simple.
"The trick is just consistency and positive reinforcement," she claims. "The laws of learning are the laws of learning. It doesn't matter if the animal has four legs or feathers." Wainio's methods focus on building a partnership of trust between pet and owner, and she recommends lifelong learning for everyone. "Dogs, like people, need to continue to learn or they get bored, and that's when bad behavior starts to happen," she said.
Wainio trains dogs privately, and in group lessons at The Grand Paw, "an upscale, fun-filled resort for pets" in Indio. She often addresses issues of fear and occasional aggressive tendencies among the Pet Oasis dogs, but she's never discouraged. "Training is fun, not work. A challenging dog today can be a joy in a few weeks," she said.
To learn more about the Human Society of the Desert, Orphan Pet Oasis, call (760) 329-0203.