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Tag: california

How MadLyn lost her dog (but not her faith) at Salvation Mountain

When singer-songwriter MadLyn filmed her latest music video she chose Salvation Mountain as the setting — a location that’s near the top of my list when it comes to American places of quirky and unnatural beauty.

And she brought her dog, Lucy, along to serve as the video’s co-star.

Salvation Mountain, built of trash, straw, adobe and and thousands of gallons of vibrantly colored paint, was one man’s tribute to his faith in God, and even though I’m not religious, I was fortunate enough to drop by and meet him twice (the mountain’s creator, not The Creator) when he was alive.

Once, for a magazine story, and once during my Travels with Ace, I spent some time with Leonard Knight — an admittedly reclusive and obsessive sort who let nothing stop him in his quest to fashion a mountain where there was none. Knight died in 2014 at age 82.

Salvation Mountain pops up like a colorful hallucination in the otherwise bleak, almost lunar, desert terrain around Niland, California.

MadLyn went there in July with her director/father and a cinematographer to film a video for her song “Will You Take Me Home” and she did all the things that people do in music videos — prance, skip, sing, twirl, look pensive, wear multiple outfits and toss her curly locks about.

madlynslucyAnd snuggle with Lucy, who is featured throughout the video.

In one scene, MadLyn was to stand in front of the mountain and hold her little dog as a camera-equipped drone zoomed in on them and passed overhead.

Lucy didn’t like that. She jumped out of MadLyn’s arms and took off.

Lucy had gone all day with no leash (she was playing the role of a stray), but when the drone approached for a close-up she “starts freaking out and jumps out of my arms and runs out into the desert,” MadLyn recounted.

As the sun went down, MadLyn, her father and the cinematographer searched for hours, on foot and by car, enlisting the help of Slab City’s other denizens, but Lucy could not be found and was not responding to their calls.

Because the cinematographer needed to get back to his family, they drove back to Los Angeles, a three and a half hour trip.

The next day, a Saturday, MadLyn called animal shelters located near Niland, printed up flyers, checked with the company Lucy’s microchip is registered with and sent out pleas on Facebook.

Then she and her father headed back to Niland to search some more for Lucy.

Sadly, and a bit ironicallly, what had happened in real life was exactly the opposite of what director Fred Fuster had in mind for the video.

While the song’s lyrics seemingly pertain to man-woman love, Fuster (being a father) envisioned a different, more innocent, interpretation of his daughter’s song.

“As director I insisted on having that story line — where this woman who has a hard time finding love meets this dog at Salvation Mountain and I guess falls in love,” he said.

But instead of finding a dog, Madlyn, in real life, lost one.

madlynsFuster’s daughter began performing at age 3. She lost her mother to breast cancer at 13, and after that began to immerse herself completely in songwriting and pop music.

She later took her mother’s name, Madlyn, to honor her.

She has been active in raising money to fight breast cancer. Last year, she released the song, “I Call Her Mom,” with 100 percent of all digital sales going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).

No strangers to loss and dealing with dark times, Fuster and his daughter pulled into Salvation Mountain after nightfall to look for Lucy and seek out people who might have seen her.

They went a gathering spot in Slab City called The Range, where an open mic night was being held, and showed Lucy’s picture around.

One man told Fuster that it was unlikely a small dog like Lucy — given all the hawks and coyotes in the area — was still alive after 24 hours.

That’s when Fuster sat down and began to pray.

When he opened his eyes and looked down, there was Lucy.

After a tearful reunion, Fuster and MadLyn put Lucy in the car and gave her some water. The 18-pound dog drank 24 ounces, MadLyn says.

MadLyn, as you can see in the video at the end of this post, clearly considers what happened a miracle.

“Lucy was missing in the desert of Salvation Mountain for 24 hours completely by herself, and through the grace of God alone, she came back,” she wrote in an email to ohmidog!

She says the video is “dedicated to all shelter and foster animals looking for a loving home.”

I have a feeling Leonard Knight would like this story.

I know I do.

Prisoners welcome canine wildfire evacuees


Nearly 50 deaf dogs evacuated from a shelter threatened by a raging wildfire north of Los Angeles have gotten a warm welcome at a state prison.

The owners of Deaf Dog Rescue of America decided to evacuate the animals from their Santa Clarita kennel Sunday night as the Sand fire started moving closer to the property.

“We knew if we had an issue in the middle of the night, we would be here alone with 45 dogs to load up,” Lisa Tipton posted on the rescue’s Facebook page.

Deaf Dog Rescue takes in deaf dogs from across the country, trains them and places them in new homes. It also provides assistance to new deaf dog owners who need training advice.

The rescue was debating where it might take the dogs when the state prison in Lancaster — where Lisa’s husband, Mark, operates a dog training program called Karma Rescue — offered all 50 of them shelter.

“We arrived to find the man-cages ready for the dogs,” Lisa Tipton said, with “food, water, beds, and igloos.”

The hospitality didn’t end there, NBC 4 in Los Angeles reported.

sandfire2When the couple returned to the prison Monday morning to feed the dogs, they found all that had been taken care of.

“The inmates had handled breakfast beautifully. They were getting the dogs out for exercise and cleaning their runs…

“I have never, ever seen anyone clean up dog poop with such glee.”

Even the dogs that aren’t always comfortable around strangers were coping well, Lisa Tipton added.

“To see incarcerated men of all races working so beautifully together to help others is a really amazing experience,” she said. “If they had turned us away, with 97 degree [heat], we would’ve had dead dogs in the trailer.”

She said the dogs will probably remain in the prison through the end of the week as efforts to contain the fire continue.

(Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Dog found high on meth gets new home

Bubba, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix found high on methamphetamine in a seedy California hotel room four months ago, is headed to a new home.

No sooner was he pronounced healthy, drug free and available for adoption Wednesday than a couple walked into Orange County Animal Care and adopted the seven-month-old dog.

The couple, who had been following his story, asked not to be identified, though they did allow a photo to be taken of the new happy family.

Bubba had been at the shelter since March after being rescued by animal control officers from a drug-infested motel room in Tustin. He was only eight weeks old at the time.

Tests later show he had ingested methamphetamine and heroin.

His owner, Joshua West, 40, of Mission Viejo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia and booked into Orange County Jail.

Another southern California man was arrested last week after his Chihuahua, named Jack Sparrow, was found to have ingested methamphetamine.

After months of treatment, Bubba’s test results came back clear for the first time, prompting the shelter to put him up for adoption, according to Jennifer Hawkins, shelter director and chief veterinarian.

“They were a really nice couple and told us that Bubba would have a sister,” Katie Ingram, assistant director of OC Animal Care, told the Orange County Register. “Bubba bonded with them immediately.”

“It made it more meaningful that they were able to help him out because of his rough start in life,” Ingram added. “We were happy they are home quite a bit. It’s what he deserves.”

(Top photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register; bottom photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Care)

Chihuahua on meth gets some help

jacksparrowWhen a veterinarian told a California dog owner that his suspicions were accurate, and his pet had indeed ingested methamphetamine, the owner turned down further treatment for the 10-year-old Chihuahua and left with his dog.

Given the dog, named Jack Sparrow, was in danger of dying, the vet contacted animal control, and the dog was seized from his owner to get the treatment he needed.

Police in Fontana said in a press release that Isaiah Nathaniel Sais walked into the Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center in Upland on July 5.

saisSais, 21, told the vet he suspected Jack Sparrow had ingested methamphetamine after finding it in his house.

A urine test confirmed that to be the case, but when vets informed Sais of that, and of the treatment needed, he walked out with his dog.

Because doctors had observed Jack suffering from convulsions and seizures and felt Jack’s life was in jeopardy, they called Fontana Animal Services, which sent officers to the home of Sais.

They seized the dog from the owner after observing he was still convulsing and living in neglectful conditions.

“There was the smell of urine in his fur and his nails were over-grown,” Jaime Simmons, of Fontana Animal Services, told KTLA.

Officers suspected Jack may have been kept indoors for months.

Jack was taken back to the vet’s office, where he continues to recover, and is expected to be transferred into a temporary foster home in the next few days.

The case was immediately submitted to the San Bernardino Animal Cruelty Task Force and an arrest warrant issued for the owner.

Sais was being held at the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino on a felony animal cruelty charge.

Is the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest getting too ugly?


A Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mix with malformed legs and an “oozing sore” won this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

SweePee Rambo took home the title Friday night at the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, beating out 15 other malformed and/or offbeat pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Saturday.

wurtzJudges in the contest, now in its 28th year, take into account bad appearance, bad odors, poor complexion and a host of other maladies, inherited and acquired — some of which, maybe, we shouldn’t be laughing so hard at.

Or even with.

I’ve already noted my growing dicontent with the contest, starting two years ago, when the winner was a dog whose appearance was believed to be a result of abuse — albeit abuse inflicted by a previous owner.

That — and the fact that the once-cute and well-intentioned little contest has become big business — led me to stop regularly reporting on it, at least in that cutesy manner that chuckling anchorpeople cover it with year after year.

Somehow the party atmosphere at the event — all the pageantry and hype — seems especially wrong when the appearance of some of the contestants is a result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.

There’s no evidence that SweePee — who is mostly hairless, blind in both eyes, has to wear diapers and has a tongue that sticks out — was mistreated. Still, I’m not sure an oozing sore should be celebrated:

“Judge Neal Gottlieb seemed particularly impressed with a sore on SweePee’s leg, noting dogs get extra points for ooze,” the Press Democrat article said.

I get what the contest was, originally, all about. But I also get what it has become, which is a little too big, a little too cut-throat and a little too prone to bestowing awards on the most disabled dog.

Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, won a trophy and $15,000. He says he will use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.

(Top photo by Peter Dasilva / EPA; bottom photo by Alvin Jornada / Press Democrat)

PetSmart employee charged in dog’s death

henryzarateA PetSmart employee was arrested after a dog in his care died Sunday in northern California, according to police.

Police were called to the pet supply store in San Mateo Sunday evening by the dog’s owner.

The owner, a 47-year-old San Mateo man, told officers he brought his 1-year-old male dachshund, Henry, to the store to be groomed, police said.

About three minutes later, an employee came out of the grooming office holding the dog, who was bleeding from the mouth and having trouble breathing, police said.

The employee, Juan Gustavo Zarate, 38, of San Francisco, then took the dog to an on-site veterinarian. Despite the vet’s attempts to treat the animal, the dog died within minutes.

A post mortem X-ray of the dog concluded Henry suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported.

Officers determined that Zarate likely contributed to the dog’s death and arrested him on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. He was booked into the county jail and released later Sunday evening, according to the District Attorney’s office.

“It’s definitely a sad and sensitive case for everyone involved and we take any animal neglect case seriously,” said San Mateo police Sgt. Rick Decker.

The Peninsula Humane Society will conduct a necropsy to confirm the nature of the injuries and the specific cause of death, police said.

In an email to ABC7 News, PetSmart wrote:

“We are heartbroken by the loss of Henry. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care.

“We are conducting an internal investigation and will take immediate action based on our findings. Additionally, we are working with the local authorities. The individual involved has been placed on suspension pending the outcome of this investigation.

“Any incident of animal cruelty goes against everything we believe as a company and as individual pet parents. No words can express our deep sorrow for the family, and we will continue to work with the pet parent during this difficult time.”

Brave dog saves kid from rattlesnake; brave kid saves dog from rattlesnake


A five-year-old boy in California and a two-year-old dog in Florida are being hailed as heroes after both were bitten last week by rattlesnakes — the boy while trying to save his dog, the dog while trying to save his human.

In Santa Barbara, Lennon Knox pushed his dog, Sunshine, out of the way of a rattlesnake in his back yard and was bitten on his right toe.

And in Tampa, a German shepherd named Haus was bitten three times by a rattler while in the back yard with his constant companion, seven-year-old Molly DeLuca.

keytLennon’s mother, Amy Knox, said her son and his dog were playing in the yard Thursday when the snake appeared.

“The snake went to go bite Lennon’s dog … and Lennon pushed Sunshine out of the way and got bit by the snake instead,” Knox told KEYT.

Amy Knox killed the snake and called 911 when she noticed her son was foaming from the mouth.

At Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital he received 35 vials of antivenom.

“He is doing quit well actually. He required multiple doses of the antivenom which we were able to get….unfortunately he is not out of the woods yet and he still needs chronic monitoring right now so we can make sure that his systems do not worsen as we start to peel away the antivenom medications,” said Angela Hsu, pediatrician at Cottage Hospital.

On Wednesday, in Tampa, Donya DeLuca rushed her German shepherd Haus to a veterinary clinic after the dog encountered a rattlesnake in the back yard.

Molly DeLuca was just a few feet away when Haus (pronounced “Hoss”) lunged at the snake and was bitten three times.

“There’s no doubt he was protecting our family,” Donya DeLuca said. “That’s very true to his temperament.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the family has already raised enough money to pay for his care through a GoFundMe page.

In addition to receiving antivenom, vets are montoring Haus for possible kidney damage.

DeLuca said the excess donations will go to an animal rescue charity.

(Photos: At top, Haus, recovering at a veterinary clinic, by Zack Wittman / Tampa Bay Times; bottom, Lennon Knox, recovering at a hospital, from KEYT)