Dedicated Animal Shelter Volunteer Dies of COVID-19, Shelter Employees to Celebrate Her Life Sunday

Riverside County Animal Services employees are mourning the loss of longtime animal shelter volunteer Mary G. Anderson, a Jurupa Valley woman who died of COVID-19.

Anderson, 74, dedicated her retirement years to helping the homeless pets of the county’s shelters and fostered more than 70 dogs during the past decade. She died Feb. 19 after battling COVID-19 for several weeks.

Animal Shelter Volunteer Dies of COVID-19

Foster kittens

“Mary was truly someone who loved being there for our shelter dogs and cats,” said Jackie Schart, an operations manager who worked closely with her. “She was so involved with our pets, several of us developed strong friendships with Mary and we are devastated by her passing.”

Candace McGrew, Animal Services’ volunteer services manager, called Ms. Anderson a hero.

“We have had some amazing volunteers during the years, but many of us would put Mary atop the list of the best of the best,” McGrew said. “I am so saddened I won’t see her in our lobby anymore. She brightened our days and, of course, bettered the lives of our shelter pets.”

Since 2011, Anderson has fostered 73 pets, but the total number is likely more because her volunteerism predates Animal Services’ current database. Some employees said they believe she fostered well more than 100 pets.

Anderson was always so giving – and not just toward animals, said Aimee Hoesman, an animal services supervisor.

Animal Shelter Volunteer Dies of COVID-19“She was always willing to help when she found something that she thought we needed, such as help to paint benches, provide new picnic tables, whirly animal flags to brighten up our walkways and even provided flowers for our butterfly garden,” Hoesman said. “Her presence in our life and department will be so missed.”

A celebration of life ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday (March 28) at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley (6851 Van Buren Blvd.). Everyone is invited to this drive-thru celebration.

“If you love animals and want to help us celebrate a champion of all animals, please attend,” Schart said. “It would be an honor to see strangers waving to us and helping us remember such a wonderful volunteer.”

Although Anderson did not have any children, she does have family in Texas. The relatives agreed to take over ownership of her four dogs: Siouxe, an 11-year-old terrier mix; Larry, a 10-year-old boxer; Bridgette, a 10-year-old Pomeranian mix; and Harry, a 7-year-old Spaniel-golden retriever mix.

Image Sources

  • Mary Anderson with a cat Volunteer: Riverside County Department of Animal Services