Restoring Hope

Category: Fall 2019 108 0

Two generous donors turn a dog-damaged RV into a high-tech mobile command center

As Humane Law Enforcement officers closed in on a Poway couple in possession of nearly 180 Yorkies, one of the suspects loaded up 46 dogs in a RV and fled to Nevada. Authorities soon caught up with her, seized the vehicle and safely returned the dogs to San Diego, where they and the others rescued from deplorable conditions inside the couple’s home were placed in the care of San Diego Humane Society.

The pair pleaded guilty to animal abuse, and as part of their sentence were ordered to turn over the 31-foot motorhome to SDHS. The RV was practically new on the outside, but the interior was another story—it had been all but destroyed by the neglected Yorkies. Thankfully, two generous philanthropists stepped up to the plate and transformed the ramshackle RV into a mobile emergency response command center.

“I owned Yorkies a couple of times in the past. I love their beautiful little faces and cheerful personae. To realize that extreme hardship and cruelty was being inflicted on these sweet little souls was difficult for me to comprehend,” says one donor, who prefers to remain anonymous. “Animals ask so little of us—just a little food, water and care, and in return they give us their whole life.”

For the other donor, Harold Zimnick, restoring the RV was a no-brainer. He’d spent years volunteering for a law enforcement agency and had financially backed a local TV channel’s news van. Creating a mobile emergency command center was a natural progression.   

“To me, this all seemed very logical and needed support—something I could help with,” he says. “Knowing that there are horses, pigs, goats, dogs and cats that need to be rescued, or if somebody ends up with another hoarder situation, SDHS will have the ability to go out there.”

The RV was gutted, fitted with communications equipment and sleeping areas for the emergency response crew, loaded with supplies and branded with the SDHS logo. It can travel anywhere SDHS’s Emergency Response Team is needed, and has so far been deployed to hurricane-stricken parts of Florida, Georgia and Texas.

The anonymous donor says he’s pleased that his grant went toward SDHS’s often thankless emergency response efforts. “When I was informed of all the backcountry-type work that San Diego Humane Society does, it was obvious that such a vehicle would be very useful and would help facilitate the care of animals in disaster zones and other operations far from a formal animal treatment center.”

Both donors shared the immense respect they have for SDHS and all the great work its staff and volunteers do.

“Every employee at SDHS loves animals,” says Zimnick, who also pledged continued support. “I haven’t run into anybody there that didn’t love their job.”

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