Imagine this—lounging all day long on your plush patio couch with the sun beaming down on your face or wandering aimlessly through your beautifully manicured garden, while having servants volunteer to wait on you hand and foot at your luxurious West Hollywood estate. Sounds like a fantasy right? Well, it’s reality for these Beverly Hills house cats.
These felines are the privileged residents of an animal rescue facility called Animal Alliance, which is an organization dedicated to the care and rescue of unwanted or abandoned animals. This non-profit organization was created more than 15 years ago and is currently run by Ellen Lavinthal, President, and Deborah Corday, Executive Director. The cats that reside at this facility were rescued from life-threatening situations or from families who just couldn’t keep them anymore.
Lavinthal and Corday have been animal activists for many years and decided to become the spokespersons for Animal Alliance because they feel that other shelters aren’t helping animals to the extent that they need to be helped. “These organizations think that they can care for these animals better than anyone else, but they just simply become collectors,” proclaims Corday. The animals are locked in cages, they do not get proper medical care and they are not getting the attention, affection and love that they deserve. Additionally, some of these organizations aren’t able to provide everything that these animals need because they simply can’t afford it.
Animal Alliance’s goal is to take in a percentage of animals from individuals who have exhausted all possibilities of finding homes for cats they cannot keep, as well as continuing to liberate cats from “rescue” organizations where they have spent many years in cages hoping to be adopted without a chance.
The Animal Alliance cat shelter houses 15 to 20 cats at a time. With such a small amount of residents, caregivers are able to get to know the cats’ personalities and really make them feel loved and at home while at the shelter. Getting to know the animals and their special needs allows Animal Alliance to make the right match between a cat and the prospective adopting family. “We pride ourselves on matching cats to a good home and we really try to match potential adopter to cat or dog,” says Corday, and “Animal Alliance will only adopt to families who truly want to make a commitment.”
At the shelter, the cats are not in cages and they are allowed to roam the grounds freely. They are able to interact with others; they play; and they have plenty of room to run around. They are brushed regularly by volunteers and are given a special daily treat. Until the cats get adopted, Animal Alliance tries to make the shelter feel just like home. Although Animal Alliance helps both cats and dogs, they only have a cat shelter. They place dogs in different foster homes around the city.
Since Lavinthal and Corday have been in charge of Animal Alliance, they have helped hundreds of animals. “We really pride ourselves for being sort of an umbrella organization, because we’re lucky that we have access to contacts and funds so that we can help so many independent rescuers in Los Angeles,” says Corday.
Animal Alliance has several independent rescuers that step up to help these animals. “There was this 75-year-old woman who said, ‘just give me any cat you want.’” says Lavinthal. This cat now lives in a condo, where the lady cooks for the cat and completely loves and takes care of the animal.
Of course, not all of the animals that are brought to the shelter are in good shape. Juno, the cat who has become the poster cat for Animal Alliance, was in horrible condition when entering the shelter. When Juno was found by Lavinthal and Corday, he was a big, furry cat that always stayed curled up. His eyes were in very bad condition. He had huge cataracts on each eye. “His eyes were dripping so much that the fur below his eyes was gone, and the fur near his paws was stained because he wiped his eyes so much,” recalls Corday. They immediately took Juno out of the situation that he was in and brought him to a specialized ophthalmologist. Juno was there for three weeks and had to receive around-the-clock care. “The doctor said that it probably felt like contacts were lodged into his eyes,” said Corday. Juno is now happy and healthy and living with Lavinthal at her home in Beverly Hills.
All of the animals that are brought into the facility are seen by a veterinarian. There is a veterinarian available 24 hours a day. Each animal is spayed or neutered and given a thorough medical exam. The animals have their teeth cleaned, and any cat that is over six years-old gets a full blood panel. “Animal Alliance is authorized by the City of Los Angeles to distribute spay and neuter vouchers to low income families, which is a privilege,” says Lavinthal.
All of the funding for Animal Alliance is provided by private donations. In the more than two years that Lavinthal and Corday have been running Animal Alliance, they have had three fundraisers. Their fourth fundraiser will be on December 1, 2004. The fundraiser is a huge shopping party that is held on the grounds of a large estate. Different designers, sales representatives and vendors from all over town sell clothing, jewelry, purses or gift items for the day. Each give a percentage discount to the customer and also donate a percentage of their proceeds to Animal Alliance. The benefit is held twice a year.
Many of the Animal Alliance cats have even been adopted by celebrities! These A-list celebrities include: Rod Stewart, Tobey Maguire, Lionel Richie, Gene Simmons, Mandy Moore and Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough, just to name a few.
If you would like to help Animal Alliance, the organization greatly appreciates donations of litter boxes, cat carriers (cardboard ones are fine), canned cat food, litter, cat collars and cat treats. For further information, please visit their website at www.animalallianceweb.com.Dorough, just to name a few.
If you would like to help Animal Alliance, the organization greatly appreciates donations of: litter boxes, cat carriers, (cardboard ones are fine), canned cat food, litter, cat collars and cat treats. For further information please visit their website at www.animalallianceweb.com