Local Non-Profit Makes Music with Fall Fundraiser



Submitted by DeAnn Lubell and Bruce Fessier

Recognizing an unprecedented crisis in veterinary care services in the Greater Palm Springs Area, the new nonprofit organization, Amy's Purpose, has embarked on a mission to train and put more veterinary workers in desert offices by 2023.

One of the leaders of the charge is John Garcia, a founding voice of the Coachella Valley’s internationally renowned desert rock scene. The husband and father of two from Morongo Valley has sung at music festivals around the world, from Coachella to OzzFest. He and his wife, Wendy, are also veterinary technicians. Garcia says he gets as much satisfaction assisting on animal procedures as he does from performing internationally before thousands of rock fans.

“There is a crisis in veterinary care in this desert,” says Garcia, who supervises the veterinary technician staff at the Palm Springs Animal Hospital. “Many veterinarians and veterinary hospitals are not accepting new patients. We are all overwhelmed by the demand for our services. We must do something to relieve the pressure on veterinarians and put more veterinary assistants in the field to care for people’s pets and help our veterinarians.”

Garcia came to international attention as the lead singer of the desert rock band, Kyuss, touted by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters as his favorite group of the early 1990s. He sang with Crystal Method at Coachella and Slo Burn at OzzFest. Now he’ll join his group, The Band of Gold, as the headliner of “Pet Love and Rock & Roll,” a benefit concert for Amy’s Purpose on September 17, 2022, at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum. His acoustic set of Kyuss classics and newer originals will climax with the band plugging in for stunning encores in the intimate theater that has previously hosted concerts by the likes of Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow.

Proceeds will help fund scholarships for a course training veterinary assistants through the Partnership and Community Education (PaCE) wing of College of the Desert. 

Veterinary assistant jobs pay only $12 to $15 an hour.  The 150-hour course costs $3,195 plus additional fees for scrubs. Students must pass a National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) exam to qualify to work with a veterinarian after another 100-hour “externship.”

Tickets at $50, $100, and $250 are available at the Annenberg box office at or by calling (760) 325-4490 Thur.-Sun. 

Ticket buyers or animal lovers who want to pay for a veterinary assistant student’s $3,200 tuition will have their donations matched after the concert by the College of the Desert Foundation, resulting in additional scholarships for veterinary assistant students. For information on how to sponsor a veterinary assistant scholarship, call (760) 831-3090 or e-mail Amy’s Purpose founder and president DeAnn Lubell at

Lubell said her charity hopes to fund up to a dozen scholarships to PaCE students committed to working for local veterinarians and possibly continuing their education to advanced levels of veterinary care. COD Foundation Director Catherine Abbott said, “The College of the Desert Foundation is happy to support students who are interested in enrolling in the College of the Desert veterinary assistance course.”

“Pet Love and Rock & Roll” also seeks to create an appreciative community to inspire new veterinarians to practice in the desert. Doctors of veterinary medicine, who will receive half-off discounts for the best seats upon showing documentation at the box office, are invited to mingle with pet lovers at a hosted, pre-show reception and silent auction at 6:45 p.m. on the museum’s main floor, featuring recorded music exclusively about dogs, cats, and birds.

Lori Weiner will receive the first Amy Award at the wine and light hors d’oeuvres reception. Weiner, who was recommended for the award by local veterinarians for her animal activism, is the owner of the Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace in Palm Desert and the founder of the California Paws Rescue adoption service 

The concert starts at 8 p.m. with a 40-minute set by Palm Springs High School alumnus Billy Steinberg, who will sing songs from his Songwriters Hall of Fame career that has produced some of the greatest songs of the past half-century, including “Like A Virgin” by Madonna, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “I'll Stand By You” by The Pretenders, “Falling Into You” by Celine Dion, “How Do I Make You” by Linda Ronstadt, “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls, “Give Your Heart A Break” by Demi Lovato and “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston. 

The singer-guitarist will be joined by musicians from Los Angeles, including vocalist Annie Bosko, who has shared the stage with Adele, Blake Shelton, and Josh Groban. Bosko was named a “country singer to watch” by Rolling Stone. “A California girl next door with the country-pop delivery of Sheryl Crow.”

Event producer and former Desert Sun columnist Bruce Fessier will lead a short Q&A with Garcia between sets – exploring the veterinary crisis and the thrills Garcia has experienced working on animals and performing on bills with the likes of Metallica and Black Sabbath.

Everyone involved with the benefit, from Garcia and Steinberg to the sound technician and stage manager, is donating their services for this vital cause for the community. Willie Rhine, co-owner of the Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub restaurants in Palm Springs and Willie’s in Rancho Mirage, is underwriting and providing the catering for the reception.

Veterinarians Alexis Rambaud and Shakira Jamison of Paws & Claws in Palm Desert have committed to encouraging fellow veterinarians to join and mingle with pet lovers at the reception. Steinberg has recruited a veterinarian friend from Sun Valley, Idaho, to meet people at the reception to consider opening a winter practice in the desert.

Dr. Rebecca Diaz, head of the Cat Clinic in Cathedral City, blames the pandemic for today’s veterinary crisis. Many staff workers stopped coming into the workplace when the CDC advised people to isolate themselves and demand for veterinary services was simultaneously exploding.

“It was always busy,” said Diaz, “but, ever since the pandemic, it’s been incredibly busy. A lot of animals were adopted during the pandemic and both dogs and cats got a lot more services than they normally would have because people were paying more attention to them. They were home with them all day.”

Several websites provide online education for veterinary assistants, but a PaCE official said it will resume in-person instruction of the course in its classrooms on the lower level of the Palm Springs Mall in October. 

Amy’s Purpose, founded in 2020, provides programs in animal safety, including predatory awareness, and grief counseling for pet owners who have suffered a traumatizing loss. But Lubell said helping to mitigate the veterinary crisis has taken on priority since the peak of the pandemic. That is why Amy’s Purpose seeks support for “Pet Love and Rock & Roll.”

“It is extremely important to entice graduating students and adults wanting to go into a second career to become interested in the field of animal sciences,” Lubell said. “Support to raise funds for the ‘Pet Love and Rock & Roll’ concert will greatly benefit the health of pets in our desert communities.”

For more information please go to or call 760-831-3090

Photos and logos are included or available upon request.

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Our Mission

Amy's Purpose is an education program dedicated to coyote and predator awareness and the prevention of pet loss. Focusing on raising awareness and promoting safety information to help protect your beloved pets. We believe in taking action with urgency in order to raise public awareness about some of the most pressing issues facing pet safety. Please join us by supporting our efforts to make a measurable difference in the lives of your pets. Our goal is to provide a speaker's series featuring professionals to talk about the dangers of predators and how to better protect pets. We also would like to offer monthly grief group counseling (inhouse and Zoom), for those who have lost a beloved pet. We aim to seek a resolution on the shortage of emergency animal facilities and vets, and possible help with vet costs due to injuries. We want to provide social media and website alerts on sightings and attacks, and to give pet owners a place to share their stories. We do not adocate harming any wild animal. 

Be aware - no fear. 

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Understanding Pet Predators

Coyotes are not the only predators that you need to protect your pets from! 


Coyotes and other natural predators are here to stay.  They have inhabited just about every region in the United States from coast to coast.  They are spotted roaming in the deserts, mountains, resort properties, Country Clubs, golf courses, parks, suburban neighborhoods, towns, and bustling big cities, as well as can easily sneak into high-fenced private backyards with ease.  As we humans encroach upon their space more and more, the possibility of coyote and other natural predator encounters increases. It is up to us to take the necessary measures to safeguard our pets to avoid interactions and conflicts. Pet predators are not limited to only coyotes. In fact, about 7% of predator attacks on pets are by bobcats, 2.5% from owls, and .5% from others such as mountain lions, eagles, and hawks. Contrary to popular opinion, raccoons are responsible for less than .001% of pet deaths. Most studies on coyote diets found that domestic cats are not a regular part of a coyote diet. Feline remains were only present in 1-2% of coyote scats.


As a side note, there is another type of predator of pets - the human predator! Beware of unscrupulous individuals who will uncaringly steal your beloved fur-baby. There are FIVE main reasons that pets are being dog-napped: resell is big business now; bait for illegal dogfights; breeding, ransom, and, yes, food source for certain cultures.  Let’s concentrate on the first reason – resale.  Dog thefts are on the increase across the nation.  Case in point, the violent dog-napping of Lady Gaga’s dog in a high-profile neighborhood where crime is low.  Her dog would have fetched a pretty penny on the market.

 We, at Amy’s Purpose, will constantly issue the warning to never leave your pet unattended because of four legged predators, birds of prey and poisonous snakes.  That warning has been extended to pet thieves just watching and waiting to abduct your precious fur babies.  These creeps lie in wait stealing pets out of cars, out of yards, and out of your hands during a walk.  Older and more vulnerable citizens are their favorite targets.  They can run up from behind, push, and snatch.  It is extremely important to make sure your pet is micro-chipped and details are up to date.