by Denise Carey-Costa
D.E.L.T.A which stands for “Dedication & Everlasting Love to Animals” is the largest “No Kill, Care-for-Life,” Sanctuary of its kind in the world. It was founded in 1979 by Leo Grillo. The D.E.L.T.A. Rescue is home to more than 1500 animals that have all been abandoned in the wilderness.
It is located in the high desert area of Los Angeles and sits on a mountaintop surrounded by rolling hills and is beautifully landscaped. It is truly a haven for the animals that are either abandoned or born in the wilderness.
The dog and cats at the sanctuary were all personally rescued in the wild by Leo Grillo, founder and president of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue. Abandoned, sick and slowly starving, they were near death.
More than 800 dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes live in straw bale house in large yards that also include wading pools to keep them cool in the hot summer months. The insulating quality of the straw bale houses keep the dogs cozy warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
The cats at D.E.L.T.A. Rescue live in houses with indoor/outdoor play areas. While outdoors they travel from perched “condo” to perched “condo” on a series of suspended walkways, able to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine without the threat of predators.
D.E.L.T.A. Rescue incorporated as a non-profit animal rescue organization in 1981 and that same year became a tax-exempt 501 [c] 3 organization.
Erica Grillo, head of Donor Relations and Leo’s daughter agreed to be interviewed for the Examiner and tell readers more about D.E.L.T.A Rescue.
Denise: What prompted the founding of D.E.L.T.A Rescue in 1979?
Erica: Founder Leo Grillo was out hiking one day and found a dog in the middle of the wilderness that was sick and hungry. He left food and water and then went back to pick the dog up. The dog led him to many other dogs that were also abandoned in the wilderness and trying to survive. Leo could not take them all at once so he left food and water for them. He eventually brought them out one by one until he could get them all into new homes. Since that day in 1979 D.E.L.T.A Rescue has been instrumental in saving over thousands dogs that have been abandoned in the wilderness.
Denise: There are 1500 pets currently at D.E.L.T.A Rescue, how many did the rescue initially start with and what type of facility was used at the beginning compared to the current facility?
Erica: 35 dogs were rescued initially and housed in rented kennel space. That number rapidly grew to 60 dogs that first year. . Leo found ways to fundraise to get food and medicine. He found homes for the first 35. Unfortunately, this was not the end to the problem. Leo found that there was an epidemic of dogs being dumped in this area. People were constantly dumping dogs at campsites and in the wilderness. The sad thing is, dogs will sit and wait patiently for their owners to come back. That is how loyal they are. Many of the dogs that are found tied up show signs of abuse and neglect.
Denise: How many acres is D.E.L.T.A Rescue?
Erica: 150 acres. The rescue houses dogs, cats and horses. Of the 1500 pets currently at the rescue, 36 are horses; the rest are dogs and cats. Due to the declining economy and loss of homes and property people were leaving their dogs, cats and their horses in the yards of abandoned houses.
Denise: Was the land donated to the rescue?
Erica: The rescue has expanded over the past 35 years to what it is today through the use of fundraising and the acquisition of deeds from landowners who were willing to donate all or portions of their land.
Denise: Do you have an on-site animal hospital and vet staff?
Erica: Yes there is an onsite hospital, vet, housekeeping and cleaning staff on around the clock 7 days a week.
Denise: How many people make up the staff of D.E.L.T.A Rescue?
Erica: There are 45 people on as paid staff. The staff members have to be fully trained on how to interact with the animals since a lot of the animals are very skittish when they arrive.
Denise: I am sure you also have a large volunteer base to help with the day to day operation, how many volunteers do you work with and what are their duties?
Erica: Insurance does not allow for volunteers. Also, the training and dependability that is required for a 7 day 24 hour operation is not conducive to volunteers. There has to be staff on hand constantly. We cannot rely on volunteers that may not show up for their assigned shifts.
Denise: How can people adopt your pets? What is the adoption procedure?
Erica: D.E.L.T.A Rescue is actually a sanctuary, not a rescue shelter; we do not adopt our animals out. Once an animal is rescued Delta Rescue becomes their home for life. Many are found as puppies and live out their lives at the rescue.
Denise: Where do the majority of the strays come from?
Erica: From the desert area, the wilderness and the campgrounds. We are strictly a wilderness rescue. We do not rescue animals from the inner city areas or neighborhoods.
Denise: If readers want to help D.E.L.T.A Rescue, how can they help?
Erica: Go to the website www.deltarescue.org. Donations of money and land are always needed and welcome.
Denise: Thank you Erica for your time and for all of your hard work with the rescue.
This article was first published on Examiner.com and is reposted here with the author’s permission.