At the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, people decided to adopt a pet since they’d be home and had time for an animal. But with a return to work and school in the fall of 2021, shelters are full again and rescue groups are working to find homes for all the animals.
“In El Paso, it’s a really bad community when it comes to dogs and cats,” said Jacqueline Zuloaga, an employe with Pet Guardian Angel, a small no-kill shelter. “There are stray dogs everywhere. A lot of people dump dogs, and that’s how a lot of dogs end up on the streets. And some of them don’t make it through the night because a lot of people dump their dogs and cats.”
Pet Guardian Angel is a privately owned non-profit organization that depends on donations. They care for stray animals, owner surrenders and try their best to take as many animals from El Paso Animal Services shelter as possible.
Big dogs pose a particular challenge for rescue groups.
“Our main idea is to save all the animals that we can, but it’s really hard because we’re very overloaded with big dogs,” Zuloaga said.
Pet Guardian Angel is more crowded than in recent years but “it is nothing in comparison over to what animal services situation currently looks like,” employee Colette Bowar said.
Pet Guardian Angel hosts adoption events nearly every other week to find animals the loving homes they deserve and make room for more dogs and cats in need.
There’s a special focus on helping big dogs find a home. There’s a $25 dollar adoption fee as incentive to give them a chance to find a loving family since so many people want to adopt puppies and small dogs. All dogs at Pet Guardian Angel have received all of their vaccinations, are neutered or spayed, and microchipped.
Pet Guardian Angel makes an extra effort to ensure big dogs find a forever home since people hesitant to adopt a bigger dog because some think larger animals require more care.
Pet Guardian Angel takes more big dogs to adopted events to give them better odds of finding a new home.
The employees and volunteers constantly work to make sure all their animals are loved and cared for while they wait to be adopted by walking them, playing with them and rewarding them with treats.
They have numerous volunteers that treat the animals with kindness while at the shelter to ensure they feel loved while they wait for a good home. Local high schools, like Eastwood High School, work with Pet Guardian Angel as part of their required community service hours.
Some of the animals have had a hard life before they reach the shelter. When “Slim Jim” arrived at Pet Guardian Angel he was starved to the point his bones were visible. He was brought into animal services after being picked up off the streets. The people at Pet Guardian Angel took him to give him a second chance for a good life.
After a couple of months with Pet Guardian Angel, he was nursed back to a health and adopted by a loving family in October.
Pet Guardian Angel relies on donations, volunteers, and people willing to adopt cats and dogs of all sizes to ensure there are more success stories like Slim Jim’s. Information at petguardianangelelpaso.org/.