Young Woman Working to Help Hoopa’s Animals; Studying Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis

Elaina Albers is currently a freshman at UC Davis—the no.1 ranked school for veterinary medicine in the nation. Davis was Albers’ dream college. She said she made it there by focusing on her goals and with the help of her family and extended family./Photo courtesy of Elaina Albers.

Most young children have probably said they want to be a vet at some point, but when Elaina Albers said it, she meant it. She held tightly onto her dream throughout elementary and high school and is now working hard to achieve it at UC Davis School of Veterinary Science. [Correction: Elaina is not yet attending the School of Veterinary Science. She is a freshman at Davis and plans to eventually attend vet school.]

She has a connection with animals and from a young age noticed that animals in Hoopa are lacking access to veterinary care and a functioning shelter.

“I love UC Davis. It was my dream college. Being here is too good to be true,” Albers said. “Davis lives up to all those years of anticipation. I feel welcomed. It quickly became home here.”

Albers—now 18, and a freshman at the no.1 ranked veterinary school in the country—anticipates Davis will be her home away from home for many years. After she completes her studies she plans to return to Hoopa to begin her veterinary practice that will double as a shelter.

As complaints about stray animals in the Hoopa Valley grow in number, various plans to address the problem are discussed informally, but none have caught enough steam to implement.

The recent closure of the only animal shelter accessible for stray dogs and cats from the Hoopa Reservation further complicates solutions and many agree that resources need to be identified and allocated to address the problem.

Although Albers’ higher education journey has just begun, she plans to return to Hoopa during summer and winter breaks to hold events and fundraisers to help advance her goal of creating an animal shelter, veterinary practice and most of all, healthier and happier relationships amongst people and their pets.

“There’s so much potential,” she said. “Many of these animals could become service dogs, guard dogs, therapy cats and more. They can go a step above being just a pet. These animals will become family.”

The animal problem in Hoopa is nothing new. In 2006, at the urging of local animal rescuers, the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council passed a thoroughly written animal control ordinance, Title 68. The 22-page law lays out in detail how animal control will be addressed on the reservation. The first page declares that “there is a lack of control over the animal populations within the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and this lack of control directly affects the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s authority and responsibility to protect persons and property within the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.”

More than a decade later the problem persists. With limited resources and no available shelter or infrastructure, the law goes largely unenforced.

In August, the Two Rivers Tribune queried the community about Hoopa’s animal problem and received more than one hundred responses detailing animal abuse, neglect and out-of-control breeding.

Elaina recognized the problem when she was very young. She found her first pet “Chug Chug” in a cardboard box marked “Free Puppies” outside of the former grocery store in Hoopa.

“He was a mutt. A big dog that was a German shepherd and husky mix,” Albers said. “I was very lucky that my mom, Mildred, has always been there to help me and support my love for animals. She was so open to let me live my life surrounded by animals. She made it easier to have the experience.”

UC Davis freshman Elaina Albers knew she wanted to become a veterinarian since she was a young child./Photo courtesy of Elaina Albers.

Albers has had many animals—dogs, cats, birds—all of them rescues or strays. One of her cats, Catniss, was allowed to accompany her to Davis.

“She’s my roommate right now,” she said. “Believe it or not, she picked out her own name. The movie Hunger Games was playing on the TV a lot and she seemed to be interested when Catniss was on the screen. She was found in an old car and I agreed to take her.”

Albers said focusing on her goal of attending UC Davis made it easier to overcome childhood obstacles. And, her twin brother Shannon, who grew up alongside her and believes in her dream as much as she does.

“Overcoming certain obstacles can be difficult, but keeping my focus on my education and future really helped. I also have a lot of people who support me and that’s a really big help,” she said.

There is an active Gofundme campaign set up to help Albers cover her dorm rent for the remainder of this semester.

“Currently I am struggling to find resources to fund my housing. I live in the dorms, however my financial aid does not cover the full cost which is jeopardizing my opportunity to stay,” Albers wrote on her Gofundme page.

So far she has raised $1,215 of her $1,850 goal and the remainder of her dorm rent is due by January 5, 2018. If unpaid, she will be dropped from her classes.

Albers is hesitant to ask for donations saying community support is more valuable to her. I want people to know that I’m still here, trying.

“The path to my career is expensive, but I want people to know that my practice will not be about money,” Albers said. “It will be about the animals and their families. Money struggles shouldn’t prevent families from having happy and healthy pets.”

Note: This article was originally published through the Two Rivers Tribune.



  • Good job, what a great thing you are planning for the community!

    Thanks kym for this story, a worthy cause indeed!!!
    May her donations be at least double what she is asking for ♥

  • Yes, great story! Stay focused and your dreams will come true.

  • Elaina, you rock!!!! Please help this young woman! Please please please. And Elaina please give updates on your progress. Seven years is a long time but you will surely get through it. Your rent will be paid one way or another. Come on people, $5 is helpful.$10 is more helpful. Jeez she needs just a couple hundred $$$. For Elaina to even be accepted into this program she showed she is able and smart and gifted. Don’t let this gift to her community get away. Also if there is an address or something to give directly without a % to be taken out from GoFundMe please let us know. I will be waiting for a couple days before contributing to GoFundMe.

  • Don't Drink While Pregnant

    Local girl does good!

  • Yes I agree about the % going to the website owner, I bet one or all of the local credit unions would be willing to have a donation account.

    Imagine how heartbreaking to get to university against serious odds only to be booted cuz you cant pay the rent.
    Take pride in helping a great student and person have the same chances as others. She sounds like she is going to give it back to her community tenfold and if you ask me hoopa deserves help!!

  • Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause, one that amounts to a double whammy, a sort of double bang for the buck.

    But how could the guy who’s writing a weekly column here at this site on the homeless site do less? I wonder what percentage of students at UC Davis are homeless? I understand the percentage at both HSU and CR is around 15%!

  • We need more people like this young lady.

  • unbridled phillistine

    So up lifting to hear a positive story come out of “Hoopa” Gives me hope some good people are coming out of that area. Hope she succeeds.

    • Lots of good people in Hoopah. Don’t believe everything you read. Most familys are 9 good and one bad… it’s only the bad one you would ever hear about in the news.

      The thing about hoopah is that it’s mostly old familys, unlike most of the rest of humboldt. They have always been really hard on growers in the valley, so they aren’t taking part in the weed economy, for the most part. It makes for some pissed off youngsters, who see all the money made out in the open that’s inaccessible to them (em fam farms).

      Don’t be hard on Hoopah unless you’ve spent some time there. There are lots (lots) of good and decent people there. No lie.

      This is a great story. I hope people send her some money.

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