PALMDALE – Daniel Garland is a veteran of three wars. The 85 year old has been through World War II, Vietnam and Korea. These days the Palmdale resident has found another call of duty — the duty to protect animals.
“War is something that was necessary,” he says. “Abuse to animals is not necessary.”
Garland’s crusade to help animals began 30 years ago in Long Beach when his wife began taking in stray animals. Soon the couple was overloaded with 25 cats and dogs. That’s when they decided to create an official animal rescue.
In 1991, Garland moved to Palmdale into a 2 ½ acre ranch and converted nearly 90% of it into a safe haven for animals. The Garland Rescue Ranch and Sanctuary takes in abused, neglected and abandoned animals of all breeds and sizes. The five-person staff provides food, shelter, and medical care for the animals and then adopts them out to loving families.
The entire operation is bankrolled through Garland’s retirement income.
“We go without all the time,” he says. “We’re living on 60-cent tuna fish cans right now.”
For Garland, this is a small price to pay for protecting animals. In the 20 years he’s operated the rescue in Palmdale, Garland says his team has received thousands of calls to help abused and abandoned animals, and hundreds of animals have passed through the rescue.
They’ve also witnessed unimaginable acts of abuse.
“We had a couple of dogs that came in here after people tried to pour lighter fluid on them and then set them on fire,” Garland says. “In another case, people were sticking a knife into [the dog] and punching him because they wanted him to be a fighter. Then they tied him to a railroad because they were gonna let the train run over him.”
“We got a female [dog] that was in a crate with feces, urine and her dead baby,” said Mercedes Atwood, Operations Manager. “Now that’s disgusting as far as I’m concerned.”
Garland says these cases motivate him to continue the operation, despite limited funding. In addition to providing food, love and care for the animals, The Garland Rescue Ranch provides training and socialization. Once animals are healthy, strong and socialized, his staff takes the animals to Pet Smart to be adopted. The group also works with several other rescue organizations, including Pet Finders, Save A Pet, and Misunderstoodbreed.com to find loving homes for the animals.
Each day the 85 year old rises early to assist his staff in feeding the animals, cleaning their crates, putting down fresh water and food, and letting them out in shifts to play in his fenced-in play area.
“He’s got a lot of energy,” said Atwood. “He’s a locomotive.”
Atwood says despite valiant efforts from Garland to sustain the operation, they are struggling and desperately in need of volunteers and community sponsors.
The group is calling on concerned animal lovers to volunteer to provide dog walking, cage cleaning, or grooming services. The small operation could also use pet food and cash donations for medical bills. Garland Rescue Ranch and Sanctuary is a non-profit organization, so all donations are tax free. To volunteer or contribute, call 661-267-2848.