View Mobile Site
  • Home
  • Marketplace
  • Community
  • Gas Prices


Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


The rescuers save abandoned pets

Volunteers cope with heartbreak and ignorance to save those with no voice

Posted: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Volunteer Debbie Rosato, veteran volunteer who specializes in cats, with Clark, an altered male, grey tabby and white, Domestic Shorthaired Mix, at the Castaic Animal Shelter.

View More »

Like a scene from “Apocalypse Now,” volunteers move in and out of the vast array of green netted kennels, starving fields for innocent animals.

Animals lay dead or dying, ribs showing, eyes hollow. Shuffling volunteers carry out puppies, kittens, weakened and maimed adult dogs and cats.

There is little barking.

All night long their bent silhouettes look in horror at the sights they are seeing. The horror is one which they never become accustomed.

And as volunteer Kyle Harris walks among them, as she probes deeper into the labyrinth of cages, each full of the dead or the dying, the pungent air repugnant, her head shakes in disgust.

“Their lives are as worthy as the lives of humans,” says Harris.

Earlier that day the first rescuers arrived, led by Jay Weiner of the Gentle Barn Foundation.

“As we got closer, it became a city of cages made out of chain link with approximately 400 animals in the worst case scenario. When we stepped out of our car the stench that hit us almost doubled us over and as we looked closer we saw 400 little eyes filled with loneliness and heart break begging us for help,” said Weiner..

Spectacular rescues like this one in 2008 in the Antelope Valley catch the attention of the media, but small scale rescues happen every day.

Volunteers like Weiner and Harris spend hundreds of hours and piles of their own money to shelter, rehabilitate, spay or neuter, and place animals in decent homes.

Debbi and Rod Rosado spend around $3,000 per year in Debbie’s effort to place abused and neglected cats. Rod allows a storage garage in his office complex to be used by Debbie as a rescue site.

“I see cats dropped off at the shelter (Castaic Animal Shelter) almost every day,” says Debbie Rosado

Rosado is a veteran animal shelter volunteer who specializes in cats.

“Volunteers are able to place 50 percent of cats in good homes. The rest — well, when the shelter gets filled… unfortunately the other cats are euthanized or taken to rescues,” says Rosado.

Throughout the county there are private “rescues” which rehabilitate and try to get animals adopted.

Groups like The Brittany Foundation, St. Bonnie’s, The Angel Dogs Deaf Dog Ranch, Gentle Barn, New Leash on Life, and Animal Rescue Volunteers are no-kill organizations that keep animals for the rest of their lives.

Animal Rescue Volunteers takes in cats and dogs using a network of foster volunteers who keep them until they are adopted.

“But, we can only take so many,” says Caroline Squires, volunteer and former president of Animal Rescue Volunteers.

Even the upbeat Squires is discouraged when “(We) rescue a bunch of dogs from the shelter and then see twice as many dogs brought into the shelter by their owners at the same time. We are fighting an uphill battle.”

Indeed, 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats are put down every year according to the American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That adds up to shocking statistics.

“Approximately five million to seven million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately three million to four million are euthanized,” says the ASPCA website.

However, those statistics are an improvement.

“In the 1970s, American shelters euthanized 12 to 20 million dogs and cats, at a time when there were 67 million pets in homes.

“Today, shelters euthanize around four million animals, while there are more than 135 million dogs and cats in homes,” says the Humane Society of America.

A thin line of rescuers like Harris, Weiner, Rosado, and Squires keep the death numbers down.

This cadre of volunteers spends vast numbers of hours to save the animals from destruction and to find them homes. They characteristically have a passion for animals.

Clare Storey, Senior Lead Volunteer at Castaic Animal Shelter is passionate about rescue work. Having grown up on a working farm in England, Storey, can relate to the lives of animals.

“I’ll never forget sitting next to an old, dying Labrador-shepherd mix and comforting him. He was 14-years-old and they (the owners) just dumped him. He should have died with someone he loved. So, I did that for him — stayed with him to the end,” said Storey.

Storey says that people don’t understand that when they surrender a sick animal it has to sit in a shelter for three days before it is euthanized.

“They think that the shelter will put the animal down for them. But it is so cruel, to take a dying member of your family and isolate him from the family in his very last days,” says Storey.

Despite the discouragements, the rescuers continue their work, seven days per week, 24 hours per day.

For more information about volunteering at the Los Angeles County Castaic Animal Shelter visit To volunteer at the Gentle Barn visit To volunteer for The Brittany Foundation visit www.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...