About Advancing The Interests of Animals
Advancing the Interests of Animals (AIA) began in 2000 in Palm Springs, California, with the original name of “Desert Paws”. For the past 23 years, we have evolved and gradually expanded our mission and activities.
Initially, we assisted other animal welfare organizations and shelters in the Coachella Valley of Southern California by holding fundraisers and donating the proceeds to them. In addition, for over a decade Desert Paws published a full-page advertisement in the newspaper, The Desert Sun, showing adoptable dogs and cats in shelters around the valley. The advertisements featured animals facing euthanasia and were successful in saving the lives of many homeless animals by encouraging people to adopt them before it was too late.
The ad, paid for by Desert Paws, was provided as a free service to all the shelters in the community, and also contained educational messages on responsible pet guardianship.
In 2002, we created and distributed hundreds of colorful plastic window plaques reminding people not to leave their pets in the car, especially in warm weather. These were placed in hundreds of storefronts and restaurants around the Coachella Valley. Over the years, we provided tens of thousands of dollars to various groups in support of free spay and neuter and vaccination services for low-income families. We also aided rescue groups by purchasing necessary equipment, such as durable animal enclosures, for them. We continue to make it our priority to aid various worthy local projects.
In 2004, Desert Paws conducted a conference, in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, called First Strike. Its goal was to teach people about the connection between abuse toward animals and human interpersonal violence. Frequently, it has been found that juvenile animal abusers go on to become violent, antisocial people. Furthermore, when there is animal abuse or neglect in the home, there is often associated spousal or child abuse. The conference was very well attended by social workers, law enforcement, animal control officers, animal advocates and the general public. After leading this conference, we decided to expand our focus on education including providing high – quality information regarding animal welfare issues and concerns.
Ultimately, this led us to our 2009 launch of the radio show, Animals Today Radio, with the tagline: “Your home for serious talk about animals.” The goal of the show is to provide thoughtful and intelligent discussion and analysis about animals and their environments, and the relationships we have with animals, all from a perspective of promoting greater compassion and respect for them.
Animals Today Radio quickly grew into a nationally syndicated show, airing in numerous markets around the country, and can also be listened to on various podcast players, as well as on www.animalstodayradio.com. Moreover, we post shorter form content from the show on YouTube at our Animals Today Radio Podcast channel. Guests on the show have ranged from politicians, lawyers, filmmakers, ethologists, to a variety of experts in all aspects of animal welfare and animal rights. Lori has interviewed various famed personalities including Bob Barker, Tippi Hedren, and Dean Koontz, to name a few. Also appearing on the show have been guests such as whale protector, Paul Watson, The Sea Shepherd, a woman known as the Penguin Lady, and an individual who is referred to as the Snake Man!
Animals Today Radio also broadcasts monologues (mostly delivered by Lori), animal news reviews and analysis, and even lighter segments like quizzes with Peter! In producing Animals Today, we have met some of the most inspiring and dedicated people you could ever encounter in any walk of life, and it continues to be an integral part of AIA. We are especially proud to havegiven hundreds of individuals and organizations a powerful vehicle to promote their own advocacy and ideas.
Meanwhile, a year after the radio show’s launch Desert Paws hosted the Coachella Valley commemoration of International Homeless Animals’ Day, where dog and cat lovers gathered to remember all the dogs and cats without homes who were euthanized that year. America’s first animal rights Attorney, Henry Mark Holzer was the special guest speaker at the event. Our 2011 International Homeless Animals’ Day event featured an inspiring short film about shelter animals being adopted into loving homes.
In 2011, Desert Paws officially changed its name to Advancing the Interests of Animals (AIA), to reflect the organization’s expanded mission and reach. The new name was announced at the Courage in Action Celebration, held in Rancho Mirage, California. The gala featured guest presenter Barry Manilow who joined Dr. Lori Kirshner on stage to present awards to community members for their extraordinary work on behalf of animals.
Starting in the summer of 2011, Advancing the Interests of Animals devoted considerable time, effort, and resources in leading a project to construct sturdy metal coverings over the outdoor dog kennels of the Indio, California city shelter. After repeated pleas from AIA and the community urging the city to give protection for the dogs in the outdoor kennels, the city finally allowed the construction, but refused to financially support the project.
AIA is proud to have donated major funding towards the construction, which provided welcomed relief from the intense desert sun for the animals. Unfortunately, the new coverings addressed only one of the many deficiencies and problems at the Indio shelter. Needless suffering and deaths continued to occur due to the shelter’s deplorable conditions and inhumane treatment of dogs and cats housed there. Overall, AIA devoted more than 2 years attempting to work with and assist Indio to improve the shelter’s condition and encourage more humane care for the animals; yet our efforts were consistently met with resistance.
As a result, after concluding that the city was unwilling or unable even to comply with county and state regulations governing shelter operations, AIA decided to file a lawsuit in 2012 against the city, its police department and the shelter. The necessity of Advancing the Interests of Animals’ legal action was validated when a Grand Jury report, released in May 2013, confirmed almost all of our allegations.
Ultimately, the City of Indio chose to close the shelter, paving the way to more humane treatment for the city’s homeless animals.
In the following years, AIA developed a multimedia campaign to promote responsible pet guardianship for Spanish speakers in the region called Feliz y Seguros Perros y Gatos (Happy and Safe Dogs and Cats). It included radio ads, newspaper articles, live appearances at events, and billboards, all in Spanish. This program was welcomed and praised because information about pet care and safety in Spanish was limited.
During the COVID years, our in – person activities were curtailed but we were able to continue producing Animals Today Radio, and developed our other media channels.
In 2021, AIA moved its base of operations to a new desert: Tucson, Arizona, where it continues to work hard on behalf of animals everywhere.
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