EL CENTRO â€” Brought together by a common love for animals, a division of the United Kingdomâ€™s Royal Air Force spent the day at the Imperial Valley Humane Society, working to make improvements to the animal shelter.
At first glance, it seems an unlikely friendship: the Royal Air Force and the Imperial Valley Humane Society. To each of these groups, however, their friendship is natural and nothing out of the ordinary.
It all began withÂ a five-year member of the Royal Air Force, who has a love for animals, specifically canines.
â€œI have a Dalmatian at home,â€ she said. Â This member began visiting the shelter in March to â€œget her animal fix,â€ she said.
From there, she began volunteering in her spare time, walking the dogs and playing with them as needed. â€œItâ€™s so sad to see so many animals without (homes),â€ she remarked.
In short time, sheÂ struck up a friendship with IV Humane Societyâ€™s Executive Director, Devon Apodaca.
â€œDevon does so much,â€ she stated, â€œhe and his staff are working hard to run the shelter.â€ They simply need more help, she believes.
To meet this need, sheÂ met with Devon and organized a â€œClean Upâ€ Day, inviting members of the United States Navy and United Kingdom Royal Air Force to come out and participate.
The work began on Saturday, May 9 at 8 a.m. and continuedÂ through 2 p.m. The crew aided in many ways, from bathing the dogs and walking them for exercise, to sweeping, cleaning up trash and brush, disinfecting, and organizing storage rooms.
â€œI am really happy to have them here; we always need volunteers to give the animals sunshine and fresh air,â€ saidÂ Apodaca, thrilled to have their help.Â â€œThey are helping us and benefiting the animals.â€
The officers and air force members wasted no time in getting to work, beginning promptly at 8 a.m. Albert Rivera, a sailor in the United States Navy, decided to join the efforts of the RAF because of his passion for animals.
â€œI received an email explaining the opportunity to volunteer here for a day,â€ he said. â€œI want to be a veterinarian one day, so I was excited to come.â€
There were a total of 43 Royal Air Force men from two British units, and several volunteers from the Navy. The men and women thoroughly enjoyed the experience; many of them gave nicknames to the puppies they were assigned for care.
â€œThere is a group of us who come in the evenings,â€ the RAF organizerÂ said, about playing and caring for the puppies.
â€œThey plan on coming regularly,â€ Apodaca stated. â€œWeâ€™re a small staff, so we really appreciate the volunteers!â€