The dogs at the Millerwood Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Burbank are there as the result of man's inhumanity to animals, as well as the beneficiary of one woman's love and concern.
Most of Pam Miller-Sackter's canine boarders have been through tragedies that are heart-wrenching--circumstances you wouldn't wish on any dog.
Jake, a Sheperd mix, was badly injured after knife-wielding hoodlums almost cut off his nose. After having surgery to reattach it, he was adopted by folks with other pets and he is now the contented head dog.
Wells, a 4-year-old Shep mix, is a handsome devil who is ready to be adopted. Miller-Sackter says you would never know he was shot twice in the leg, now that he has had surgery and a bone graft.
Pall Mall is a 1 1/2-year-old Shepherd mix, who was found running on the freeway. He was covered in grease and had a bad case of mange. He is now the picture of health and ready for a good home.
So is Snowdonia, a sweet-tempered, 10-month-old Shepherd who was found locked in an abandoned car in the desert without food or water.
Like the others, she is now chipper and seems happy to be alive.
The dogs come to Millerwood from veterinarians' offices and the city and county animal shelters. Some are brought in by concerned animal lovers. They are nursed back to health before being put up for adoption by Miller-Sackter, who runs the shelter and carries much of the costs.
Miller-Sackter hadn't considered herself an animal activist when she volunteered at a similar shelter several years ago.
"I had heard about a place where they took care of abused and abandoned dogs, and I offered to be one of the volunteers who would go out to the Chatsworth location and walk the animals," she remembers.
An equestrian trainer, she thought helping less fortunate animals would be a good change of pace. She says the man who ran the Chatsworth shelter at that time promised never to put down a dog who could be rehabilitated, but that eventually he did have some of the animals killed.
"I think his instincts were good but that he just burned out and couldn't care for all the dogs," Miller-Sackter says.
That's when she went into action and Millerwood was founded.
"I located a kennel in Burbank and took over the lease from someone who had defaulted. I brought some of the dogs who were probably going to be put down over from the Chatsworth kennel," Miller-Sackter says.
That was about two years ago and upward of $40,000 out of Miller-Sackter's pocket.
She thinks it is money well spent. She has room at the kennel for about 28 animals and currently has about 48.
"Some are boarded out at other kennels and some we have put in foster homes," she says, adding that she wishes she had room for more.
In the past two years there has been a steady stream of dogs to the facility. Since people who work with animals have found out she is willing to take injured pets, her kennel population has grown.
Tina Ladd, one of Miller-Sackter's volunteers, who also works with other organizations such as Pet Orphans, says Miller-Sackter is considered something of a saint.
"What she does is so difficult. In addition to rescuing animals and finding them good homes, she nurses them back to health and helps them feel secure and unthreatened."
Miller-Sackter says she does have volunteers who work with the dogs, and a vet who provides health care at a reduced cost, but that she wishes a dog food company would adopt her and help with the food.
"We are a registered nonprofit agency and we do get some financial help from donations, but it costs about $2,500 a month to keep up the rent, food bill and medical costs," she says.
Still, she says the rewards are incredible. She cites the case of Dover, a yellow Labrador.
Dover was brought to the facility after being stabbed in the ribs by a child. The animal also had a fractured front leg.
After being nursed back to health by Miller-Sackter and her band of canine caretakers, he was adopted by a family with a home in the Valley and a vacation home in Arizona.
"We often hear from people who adopt our dogs," Miller-Sackter says. "They like to keep in touch and tell us how well the dogs are doing.
"The last note we received from Dover's people included a picture of the dog, looking very pleased with himself. He was sitting in a dune buggy," Miller-Sackter says.
West Valley Group Launching All-Out Assault on Taggers
No more nice guys. Graffiti-busters in the West Valley are not going to take it any more.
They are beefing up their political muscle to take on City Hall and the justice system.
"Unless the law puts some muscle into the way it deals with taggers, our children's children will still be dealing with this neighborhood situation, if there is any neighborhood left," George Haytens says.
Haytens is not some guy who just sits around grousing.
He spent part of his 31 years as a building and grounds administrator, most recently at Pierce College, cleaning away graffiti.