EL CENTRO — Brought together by a common love for animals, a division of the United Kingdom’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 with a five-year member of the Royal Air Force, who has a love for animals, specifically canines.
“I have a Dalmatian at home,” she said. This member began visiting the shelter in March to “get her animal fix,” she said.
From there, she began volunteering in her spare time, walking the dogs and playing with them as needed. “It’s so sad to see so many animals without (homes),” she remarked.
In short time, she struck up a friendship with IV Humane Society’s Executive Director, Devon Apodaca.
“Devon does so much,” she stated, “he and his staff are working hard to run the shelter.” They simply need more help, she believes.
To meet this need, she met with Devon and organized a “Clean Up” 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 continued 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.
“I am really happy to have them here; we always need volunteers to give the animals sunshine and fresh air,” said Apodaca, thrilled to have their help. “They are helping us and benefiting the animals.”
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.
“I received an email explaining the opportunity to volunteer here for a day,” he said. “I want to be a veterinarian one day, so I was excited to come.”
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.
“There is a group of us who come in the evenings,” the RAF organizer said, about playing and caring for the puppies.
“They plan on coming regularly,” Apodaca stated. “We’re a small staff, so we really appreciate the volunteers!”