Rotarians Work with Man’s Best Friends

Imperial Service Club Helps Humane Society Bring Human Touch to Isolated Animals.

Peggy Price, incoming president of Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary, poses for a photo with one of the many rescue dogs the club lent at helping hand to at the Humane Society of Imperial Valley on Saturday, June 12, for the club’s Rotarians at Work project. | COURTESY PHOTO
Outgoing Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary Club President Nancie Rhodes gives some affection to one of the many rescue dogs that have been in semi-isolation at the Humane Society of Imperial Valley during the pandemic. The club was volunteering at the shelter on Saturday, June 12, for its Rotarians at Work project. | COURTESY PHOTO

The Humane Society of Imperial County got a few helping hands Saturday, June 12, when Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary chose the shelter for this year’s Rotarians at Work project.

Several of the Imperial-based club members and a couple of their guests helped bathe some of the 100 or so dogs that, like many of the humans doing the washing, have spent months in semi-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dogs also were showered with affection by the club members, a socialization much needed, according to Devon Apodaca, executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.

“Not only do people benefit from sunshine, fresh air and exercise, but our furry friends do as well,” Apodaca said. “When the animals are able to get out for some much-needed sun and exercise, not only does it keep them happy and healthy, but it helps them find their ‘furever’ homes much quicker.”

Among those shampooing and helping with socialization Saturday were Nancie Rhodes, outgoing club president, and Peggy Price, its incoming president.

“(This) was such an inspiring experience,” said Rhodes. “These dogs showed instant love, regardless of their past, especially one who jumped on my lap and gave me kisses.”

In a group effort, several members of Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary Club bathe one of the many rescue dogs at the Humane Society of Imperial Valley on Saturday, June 12, during the club’s Rotarians at Work project. | COURTESY PHOTO

Volunteers benefit immensely from these experiences, Apodaca said. “It has been proven that pets provide physiological and psychological benefits for humans. Pets can help lower blood pressure, help to increase physical activity, decrease rates of depression, stress and anxiety, decrease the feeling of loneliness, increase one’s self-esteem and most importantly — they show us unconditional love and support.” 

“There was no doubt that this was a worthy project for Rotarians at Work. It was heart-warming to give the dogs our attention,” Price said. “Devon and his team made it easy for us to help with bathing and enrichment activities. I hope that other Rotarians or service clubs will look to the Humane Society for projects to support the animals and staff who care for the many dogs and cats each day.”

Apodaca said the community can help support the Humane Society of Imperial County in several ways: through pet adoption or fostering an animal, by volunteering, and by helping educate and advocate.

Rotarians at Work typically takes place the last Saturday every April. Last year due to the pandemic, the activity was cancelled, but as restrictions have eased in recent weeks it was able to take place a few weeks late.

Rotarians at Work began in 2006 with two clubs; its popularity spread and today it is a worldwide event. Each year clubs decide upon a project that will benefit their communities. This year’s project was a no-brainer for the Imperial club, which consists of many pet owners whose animals are rescue dogs such as those they helped Saturday.

Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Wednesdays at Brickhouse in Imperial and via Zoom.

Nancie Rhodes (left), outgoing Imperial Valley Breakfast Rotary Club president, and club member Carlos Fletes help bathe one of the rescue dogs at the Humane Society of Imperial Valley on Saturday, June 12, for the club’s Rotarians at Work project. | COURTESY PHOTO
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