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Church hosts special, multi-animal event Saturday

Watermelon Mountain Ranch and United Blood Services are partnering for a first-ever pet adoption clinic and blood drive, which will take place Saturday.

Come for the animals, stay for the blood drive.

An animal adoption/vaccination clinic is being paired with a blood drive on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo NE, Rio Rancho.

The “Furry Friends and Turtles, Too!” event is being sponsored by the church, Watermelon Mountain Ranch and United Blood Services.

Groups that rescue, care for and know all about dogs, cats, turtles, prairie dogs, rabbits and alpacas will be there, including the Rio Grande Turtle and Tortoise Club; Prairie Dog Pals; SW Canine Corps; Animal Protection of New Mexico; and New Mexico House Rabbit Society.

There will also be an alpaca hair craft demonstration by Humming Desert Alpaca Ranch, face painting, craft activities and door prizes.

Amber O’Brien, the donor recruiter for United Blood Services in New Mexico said this is the first time that the organization has partnered with Watermelon Mountain Ranch, and the first time the church has hosted such an event.

“My passion is animals, and I thought if it were me, and went to an adoption clinic for animals and there was a blood drive going on at the same time, I’d be more likely to donate,” O’Brien said.

As added incentive, for each blood donation United Blood Services will donate items to Watermelon Mountain Ranch, including pet food, beds, toys and puppy pads.

“We’re hoping that many animal lovers will be inclined to donate blood, especially if they know their donation will be matched with a gift to the Watermelon Mountain Ranch,” O’Brien said.

Sara Garrigan, executive director of the Watermelon Mountain Ranch, says having a pet adoption clinic and blood drive partnering for the first time seems like a great idea. “We can help each other.”. (Dean Hanson/Journal)

“Partnering with United Blood Services and holding a blood drive seemed like a great idea,” said Watermelon Mountain Ranch executive director Sara Garrigan. “We can help each other. The same kind of people who may adopt an animal are the same kind of people who are likely to donate blood.”

The shelter will have eight dogs, both small and large breeds, available for immediate adoption, but no cats because “it’s too hot and they don’t travel well,” she said.

Also available will be low-cost dog and cat vaccinations and identity microchipping.

The Watermelon Mountain Ranch in Rio Rancho is the state’s largest private no-kill animal shelter, Garrigan said. It is currently responsible for 75 dogs and 50 cats at their shelter and in foster care. Many of the animals came from municipal shelters in New Mexico, El Paso and Juarez, where they were on a euthanasia list due to overcrowding.

“So these animals are getting a second chance,” she said, “which for us is a labor of love.”