DeAnn Lubell adopted Amy from Loving All Animals. Her tragic death inspired Amy's Purpose, which began in 2020 to raise awareness about pet predators, pet safety and care programs, and has broadened to support local veterinary care.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY AMY'S PURPOSE
When her 85-pound bulldog, Sugar, hurt her back leg, DeAnn Lubell picked up the phone and called a vet clinic just a few minutes from her Yucca Valley home.
They couldn’t see her. “We’re so busy,” they told her. They suggested another veterinary practice. She called and received the same response. She tried several more vets she knew in the Coachella Valley. “Can’t take her.”
“So, I finally went online and asked a Morongo Basin group, ‘Does anyone have any recommendations?’” Lubell recalls, saying the responses were Victorville, Banning, Beaumont, and Loma Linda, and into L.A.
“Really, that far?” Lubell recalls. She took Sugar to a vet hospital in Beaumont, but the repeated rejection from the others stayed with her.
Lubell got back online and asked whether others had experienced the same problem. She was flooded with responses, some saying in some cases their pet died because they couldn’t find timely assistance
She reached out to her own veterinarian looking for answers. Just months earlier in 2020, she had begun Amy’s Promise, a nonprofit organization born out of her own personal loss of her dog, Amy, who was killed by coyotes at her home. Despite the overwhelming grief, Lubell took action to warn others of the dangers of predators and to offer grief counseling.
Lubell didn’t know it, but she was on the cusp of making an even greater impact. “I had a meeting with my veterinarian, who's now become a pretty good friend of mine. And I said, ‘What's going on?’ I said. ‘Do we need to build?’ Maybe Amy's Purpose can get money and build another facility. She says, ‘No, we don't need another facility. We need clinic workers. There are not enough vets, vet techs or vet assistants.’”
She discovered vet techs have a steep hill to climb, including 150 lecture hours and 100 hours of externship culminating in eligibility to take the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Approved Veterinary Assistant national examination. The vet assistant course offered through College of the Desert costs $3,195.
Lubell chats further with Palm Springs Life about how Amy’s Purpose has broadened its focus to raise funds for vet tech scholarships, and what this journey has meant to her.
How do you plan to raise the scholarship money?
Bruce Fessier and I, we always met in the fall, and we've known each other for 25 years. We always met in the fall to go over the upcoming season’s needs. We'd spend an hour talking about that, and then we spend an hour socializing. We met last fall, and I told him about Amy’s Purpose. He says,“I've got a friend who's a great musician, and he's also a vet tech, and maybe we can combine the two and put on a little concert in High Desert.” Then a few days later, he was walking his little dog on Frank Sinatra and the dog slipped out of its collar and was hit and killed. He just felt that was a sign that he needed to get more involved with Amy's Purpose. Within 48 hours, we were meeting with the people from the College of the Desert and their PACE program. I think a couple weeks later, we were in business. We are partnered with the COD PACE program. They said for every five scholarships we get underwritten, they will match. So, that was our goal. Meanwhile, our little fundraiser in the Desert eventually ended up being at the Annenberg theater with a reception in the museum.
When is the concert and who will perform?
It’s called Pet Love and Rock & Roll at 8 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The performers are John Garcia And The Band of Gold, who is a fabulous musician, world renowned, and a vet tech (with his wife at Palm Springs Animal Hospital), and Billy Steinberg, who is phenomenal. We’ll take a short break after John performs and have him chat with Bruce Fessier about the crisis and how people can help. The evening will also include honoring Lori Weiner, who owns the Barkingham Pet Hotel in Palm Desert. She will receive the first Amy Award for her work as the founder of the California Paws Rescue.
Why was Amy so special to you?
She was a puppy mill rescue. I got her at Loving All Animals. She came into my life when my husband, Lee, got cancer. He was gone, once diagnosed, within a few months. We had four dogs, but this little dog was just my salvation. All the dogs were, but this one was my soul dog. When I lost her and witnessed her being killed, it was just so horrendous. She didn't die of an illness. She didn't die of old age. She didn't die because she was accidentally hit by a car or whatever. It was something that could have been prevented. I think it was within 24, 48 hours after this happened, that I posted that I'm going to start a nonprofit. That was it. There was no question in my mind. I wanted to help others.
What does it mean to connect with others with shared experiences?
We have grief counseling available to anyone, but I have people who call, pet owners who call and want to talk to me because they can relate. They know they are talking to someone who went through that. I'm no therapist or licensed therapist, and we have one, but I can be a great sounding board. The satisfaction that I get is the callers who tell me because of our organization, they have become more aware. That's what it's all about. We just saved another pet's life, and we just saved a pet owner from grieving, because these pets are like family members for so many.
What is the ultimate outcome of your fundraising efforts?
We've just about reached our goal of five underwritten scholarships for $3,200, and COD will match those. It looks like we will be putting through 10 individuals for the College of the Desert PACE veterinarian assistant course, starting in October. Our goal is that these individuals, those who get through it and become really involved and interested in animal sciences or animal husbandry, will want to go further, and go through the vet tech program, which is like a four-year course. Then hopefully from there, become veterinarians. We're starting at the bottom and hoping that this will make a dent in what we're doing.
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