President’s Letter – July 2022
Dear RCHS Friends and Family,
History is never far behind us! At Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS), relationships endure and volunteerism is a long-standing tradition. Here’s how we know! The Lloyd family came to tour the shelter and share stories about their relative and our founder, Maria K. Lloyd.
Maria K. Lloyd escaped communism, fleeing from Siberia to begin a new life in America. When she settled in Southern California, Mrs. Lloyd volunteered at the Animal Friends Guild (now the RCHS Thrift Shop), where she became acquainted with our own Lois Martin. Lois talks fondly of Maria, joining us as we walked through the property to show her family what Maria built. Lois explained, “I have a lot of respect for Maria. She was passionate and purposeful. At just 100 pounds, she was a giant in animal rescue.”
The Lloyd family was impressed with our desire to preserve what Maria started, retaining the welcoming style of our cottage buildings, preserving her legacy of caring and compassion for all animals, and growing programs to support pets and pet owners in our community. Some family members had never been to the shelter, others knew of Maria based only upon what had been written, a nephew told us of his holidays spent with “Dr. Paul and Aunt Maria,” and a niece-through-marriage had adopted RCHS dogs, most recently, a Dachshund named Stella. All were anxious to learn what we knew about her.
We shared this history, as it has been told to us. Mrs. Lloyd patrolled the hills of North County, transporting hundreds of creatures back to her home. In 1960, Dr. Paul Lloyd donated nearly 5 acres of property on Requeza Street to his wife’s cause. In January 1967, an article in the San Diego Union Tribune carried this tribute:
“Tiny Maria Lloyd, brilliant and brave, and cute but not kooky, has been subjected to all sorts of indignities because of her love for the feathered or four-footed. For example, a crucified hawk was left in the night on the Lloyds’ Rancho Santa Fe property. The cross extended skyward from a scaffold that was a carpenter’s masterpiece.”
Mrs. Lloyd continued rescuing animals with her hands-on style, which sometimes involved risking her life to lure a frightened German Shepherd off Interstate 5. In 1970, she spearheaded a drive to end trapping of wildlife and worked to introduce low-cost spay and neuter clinics to the County. By 1974, when Maria Lloyd retired as President, Rancho Coastal had taken in 60,000 birds and animals, including a deaf dog, a baby seal, a 400-pound baby beak whale, vultures, skunks, foxes, turtles, ducks, a bobcat kitten, a 6-food boa constrictor and a pigeon who enjoyed sitting on his head. Mrs. Lloyd continued lobbying and fundraising efforts on behalf of animals until her death in 1979 at 74.
I told the visiting Lloyd family a story that a staff member once reported seeing a ghost hovering in the Front Office and that sometimes I linger until after dark with (unfulfilled) hope that the ghost might visit me. Lois told the Lloyds that, for years, we hung a picture in the Front Office, captioned with Maria’s name below. “That’s not Maria,” Lois declared, and the picture was removed. Maybe, the ghost had no need to linger, once we got it right!