Rescuers go on cat-finding mission: Pet Place heads to hurricane-ravaged areas to pick up homeless animals

The Pet Place Internatioinl crew hit the road to Texas and Florida on Tuesday morning and will be bringing dozens of animals affected by hurricanes to their Landers rescue next week.

LANDERS — Three local animal rescuers hit the road Tuesday morning and are headed to Texas and Florida to rescue animals that have been found in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Dorian. They are traveling cross-country in a rental van to find the most needy dogs and cats and bring them back to their rescue, Pet Place International.

PPI is a nonprofit animal rescue based in Landers. The rescue originally started in Orange County but, after outgrowing their former space, they moved to the desert to expand. President Joan Grandizio is originally from Huntington Beach and has always been passionate about animals.

“We’ve been doing this for about 10 years,” she said. “We’re so passionate about animals and we have about a hundred in our care right now”

The rescue now takes up two properties in Landers, one for dogs, cats and a few other miscellaneous pets and one for farm animals and horses. Many of these animals were on death row before finding their way to PPI and the rescue often finds the pets it takes in through efforts on social media. 

“You’ve come on a good day. We actually just got a new rescue in from Los Angeles last night,” Grandizio said on a tour of the facility on Monday afternoon.

Grandizio said a group of people reached out to PPI on Facebook about a senior dog named Pastor who was scheduled to be euthanized on Tuesday. PPI was able to get a Los Angeles volunteer to bring Pastor to the rescue instead.

“He’s about 10 years old and still has a lot of life left in him,” Grandizio said. “We’re going to have him checked out by vets, then hopefully put him up for adoption.”

Apart from Pastor, PPI houses about 10 other dogs, including a senior Chihuahua named Bamdi and a German shepherd mix named Bingo. PPI specializes in senior dogs and dogs with health issues.

On Monday volunteers were preparing for the dozens of new animals they expect to bring in after their cross-country trip. PPI plans these larger rescue missions every year; this will be the third year in a row that they travel to Texas to rescue animals.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017. It was formidable in its size, strength and length of time. Many animals perished and thousands became homeless. PPI was one of the first rescuers on the scene after the hurricane and brought dozens of animals back to California that September.

Last month, the area was hit again by Hurricane Imelda and the already struggling shelter received another influx of animals. PPI will be rescuing cats from the area on this trip.

Before heading into Texas the rescue will drive to Big Dog Ranch in Loxahatchee, Florida. Big Dog Ranch Rescue is the largest cage-free, no-kill dog rescue in the United States. It is bringing in hundreds of dogs from the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian and is also still bringing in dogs from Puerto Rico.

Grandizio said she and her team will be taking about a dozen of the more needy dogs from the rescue, particularly senior dogs or dogs with medical problems. After that they will drive to Texas and fill the rest of the car.

“We will probably bring back around 40 animals,” she said. “Obviously it depends on the size of the dogs we rescue, but that’s what were hoping for.”

The trip should, altogether, take less than two weeks and PPI will need a lot of extra help when the rescuers come back with the new animals. PPI accepts donations of dog and cat food, bedding, bowls, leashes, alfalfa horse feed, horse blankets, tack, helmets and more. It also accepts cash donations to cover veterinary costs at

The animals they bring in will go into a brief quarantine until they can be vaccinated and checked out by veterinarians and then they will be put up for adoption. Make sure to follow them on Facebook at for updates on the trip and adoptable animals.

(1) comment

Branson Hunter

Blessed are the few who devote themselves to homeless animals and pets.

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