The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa has been working for just over a year in partnership with Animal Samaritans, a local no-kill animal shelter, animal rescue, and veterinary care organization to introduce adoptable dogs to resort guests. Since May of 2015, 43 dogs have found forever homes through the resort’s “Dog Samaritans Adoption Project.” With National Dog Day approaching, the resort has intensified their efforts with the goal of reaching 50 dogs adopted in time to celebrate with a reunion on National Dog Day, on August 26, 2016.
“We had an idea that this program would resonate with our guests,” says Randy Zupanski, General Manager at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, “but we didn’t realize just how many win-win-win combinations would result from this experimental partnership.”
To create the program, a special pen area was set up in the lobby for one dog at a time from Animal Samaritans. Through the program dogs reside at the resort until they find their forever home. They are cared for by a dedicated team of associates, called Westin Dog Samaritans. They are walked throughout the day, played with and given social interaction opportunities, while also treated to the Westin Heavenly Dog Bed®– a standard amenity for guests visiting the resort with their own pooch.
Applicants have come from near and far, and at an unexpected frequency. While the average stay for a dog is a little more than a week, on more than one occasion dogs were adopted so quickly that Animal Samaritans did not have another to immediately take its place. Dogs have been rehomed locally, across the country and even internationally in such places as Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Vancouver, and other areas. Animal Samaritans monitors the program, reviews all applications and makes approval decisions about the adoptions.
“Approximately 75 percent of the dogs adopted have found homes outside of the desert,” remarks Zupanski. “The stories are incredible. These dogs and their new owners find a connection with each other. People come to visit our beautiful desert and resort and go home with a new family member.”
The resort selected National Dog Day on August 26th as a fitting occasion to hold a reunion for the dogs that have been adopted. The Westin Dog Samaritans have identified a goal to have 50 dogs find homes through this program also by that date.  Adoptee families from out of the area have been invited to return for the reunion.
“Whatever the adoption count is on August 26th, our partnership with the Westin is a major success,” notes Animal Samaritans’ CEO Tom Snyder. “Especially for our shelter dogs. The goal of matching homeless pets with loving humans continues, and with the Westin we have a compassionate and reliable ally in the fight to curb animal homelessness.”
The reunion, a “Yappy Hour” with activities for both dogs and their owners, is also open to the public and their canine companions. The event takes place 4 to 6 p.m. in the Oasis Den and Courtyard, and will feature a special pooch menu as well as hosted drinks and appetizers for humans. There will be a Pooch Portrait Booth for memorable photos, and vendors who specialize in pet specific offerings will be participating in the event. During their visit the dogs will be provided a Heavenly Dog Bed to use, and given a free take home keepsake toy.
Animal Samaritans and the City of Rancho Mirage, notably one of the most dog-friendly cities in California, will both be on hand to help celebrate the occasion. The City not only is debuting a dog park this summer, but it also provides reimbursement to residents who adopt animals from shelters such as Animal Samaritans.
“National Dog Day is a perfect time to celebrate of the success of this program and to also bring the community together for a fun event with their furry friends,” said Zupanski. “While we have adoptees returning for the event, we truly encourage Valley residents to partake in the festivities.”
For additional information on the program and the adoptable dogs, contact Raquel Wood at The Westin, or any member of the Concierge team. The Westin Mission Hills is located at 71333 Dinah Shore Drive in Rancho Mirage and can be reached at (760) 328-5955. For more information about the resort visit www.westinmissionhills.com.
About The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa is a 512 room, AAA four-diamond resort nestled in the heart of the Palm Springs Valley. Spread out over 365-acres, the resort offers spacious guest rooms and suites, over 65,000 square feet of meeting space, two championship golf courses, an intimate spa, seven lighted tennis courts, three pools, a 75-foot waterslide and multiple dining options to include the signature Italian restaurant, Pinzimini. For more information, please visit www.westinmissionhills.com.
About Animal Samaritans
Animal Samaritans SPCA is a 501 (c) non-profit organization founded in 1978 committed to improving the lives of animals and people.  As the Coachella Valley’s most comprehensive animal welfare organization, they strive to one day eliminate the needless suffering and abuse of homeless and unwanted animals.  Programs and services in place to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals include prevention through humane education, affordable veterinary care, pet therapy programs, animal rescuing, a no-kill animal shelter and pet adoptions. More information is available by calling 760.601.3754 and by visiting www.animalsamaritans.org.