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SCV animal activist dies suddenly

Posted: February 19, 2014 6:24 p.m.
Updated: February 19, 2014 6:24 p.m.
Rick Kerr with a litter of kittens he rescued from a Dumpster in August. Signal photo by Dan Watson Rick Kerr with a litter of kittens he rescued from a Dumpster in August. Signal photo by Dan Watson
Rick Kerr with a litter of kittens he rescued from a Dumpster in August. Signal photo by Dan Watson

Richard “Rick” Kerr, a Santa Clarita Valley man who devoted the better part of his adult life to caring for and rescuing animals, died suddenly at his home in Saugus earlier this month. He was 61.

Kerr, who helmed the local nonprofit organization Citizens for Sheltered Animals and made headlines for his rescue efforts — including caring for a litter of newborn kittens that were left for dead in a Dumpster in Castaic in August — died of an apparent heart attack.

“He was very positive and light-hearted,” his brother, Jeff Kerr, said Tuesday. “He just always was laughing and he was very giving.”

Born in New Jersey, Rick Kerr moved to Burbank when he was a child and came to the Santa Clarita Valley as an adult.

As an adult he worked for a time at Lockheed Martin, his brother said, but a chance trip would take him out of that realm and into the field of animal rescue.

“He was driving home from work one day from Lockheed and saw a dog that had been hit by a car and he took it to a vet and saved it,” Jeff Kerr said. “Those kind of things started him off years ago in the early 1980s, and then it just kind of grew from there.”

Rick Kerr’s passion led him to found Citizens for Sheltered Animals in 1987, where he and a dedicated group of volunteers worked on local animal rescue efforts.

Those recent efforts included a push to establish an animal sanctuary in Acton.

“I would say that he had the biggest heart in the world,” said Melinda Morner, who worked with Citizens for Sheltered Animals. “Animals were number one, definitely, and he could not understand people not treating any kind of creature like the little angels that they are.

“His heart was just so big for animals,” she said.

As for the sanctuary in Acton and what lies ahead for Citizens for Sheltered Animals, Morner said the future is uncertain following Kerr’s death.

“We’re all having a really hard time not having his enthusiasm there,” she said. “He just was an amazing, amazing guy.”

Volunteers are also working to find homes for two dogs that Kerr cared for. The female, Hanna, and male, Oreo, were both rescued last year from a property in Palmdale.

For more information on the dogs, or to find out ways to help Citizens for Sheltered Animals, email

Memorial services in Rick Kerr’s honor will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary, 23287 North Sierra Highway in Newhall.

“I don’t think he found his niche until he started the foundation to save animals,” Jeff Kerr said of his brother, his voice cracking with emotion. “And I know the animal world will miss him as much as I do.”
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