EL CENTRO – The Imperial Valley Humane Society is always looking for ways to encourage adoption of their animals. This Saturday, LT Walton, defensive line player for the Pittsburg Steelers, had the same idea as he attended an adoption event sponsored by the Humane Society at the local PetSmart.
Walton said he is a lover of animals and comes from a family who always had dogs, and when it comes to doing something for them, he is ready to help out.
“Everyone in my family loves dogs,” said Walton about his family. “I will always do something like this for my Ma.”
Originally, IV Humane Society Executive Director Devon Apodaca threw the idea at Walton as a small joke. However, Walton latched onto it and proposed the Humane Society host an event with him as the draw. Since he had already attended events during his off time with fianceé Ali Garcia, it made sense to take it a step further and make it official, he said.
Those who stepped into PetSmart during the day for the adoption event could also get an autograph and picture with Walton with a donation of $10.
The community’s response was immediate. Right away, Steelers fans came flooding into PetSmart to get their memorabilia signed. One man had 12 Steelers helmets to get signed by Walton.
“I’m buying a ’96’ jersey now because you love animals,” one Steelers fan told Walton.
America “Steelers” Nerva and her family came from Yuma just to see Walton, though they also stayed to look at some of the dogs. “If he’s coming to a little town like this to bring awareness, I think that shows he really cares,” said Nerva.
One father and son duo, Hector Figueroa Jr. and Hector III, said they came to look into adopting a dog.
“We came for the puppies,” said Figueroa, “but we saw him there and thought why not?”
“It’s a rare occasion to see someone help out here, especially someone from the NFL,” said Kristen Finnell.
Currently, the Human Society is at max capacity with close to 400 animals in the facility. Apodaca said there has been an influx this month in due in part to the fireworks of the 4th of July, which often causes animals to break out of yards in fear and confusion and end up lost on the street.
“These animals are in the shelter because of people,” said Apodaca. “Without community support, they will stay in the shelter.”
All the proceeds from the event will benefit the IV Humane Society.