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Dog orphaned in South L.A. fire gets new home in Santa Barbara

June 26, 2013|By Jean Merl
  • Genie, renamed Gina, was saved in a fire at a South Los Angeles auto repair shop.
Genie, renamed Gina, was saved in a fire at a South Los Angeles auto repair… (Leticia Cervantes )

A Rottweiler mix, the sole survivor of a South Los Angeles fire that killed its owner and canine "siblings," has found a new home, animal rescue groups said Wednesday.

Genie -- renamed Gina by one of her rescuers -- lost her first family early June 16 when fire swept through the small auto repair business where she lived with her owner and several other strays he had rescued from the streets. 

Her owner and the other dogs were trapped in the cramped one-story building because its door had double-cylinder deadbolt locks, which required keys on both sides to open, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. 

Gina survived because she had been tied outside to serve as a watchdog, according to a neighbor of the man known only as Victor. The neighbor helped care for the dogs and helped get them vaccinated and spayed or neutered through Downtown Dog Rescue. 

The volunteer-run organization uses grants and donations to help impoverished South Los Angeles residents with their dogs to keep the animals from going to shelters.

The neighbor, community activist and volunteer Leticia Cervantes, contacted Downtown Dog Rescue, which, along with the Amanda Foundation, took in the approximately 3-year-old dog and set about finding her a new home.

The county coroner's office has not yet released the identity of the 57-year-old man. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, fire officials said Wednesday.

Genie/Gina's story got a happy ending when a Santa Barbara couple read a Times story about her plight and applied to take her. The couple still was grieving the loss in April of their male Rottweiler but decided they wanted to welcome this needy dog.

On Thursday, her new owners reported she was settling in nicely, having already appropriated the husband's favorite chair and eschewed her own designated sleeping spot for a place on the couple's bed.

"She is a beautiful girl and we are very pleased to have her join our family," her new "dad" wrote in an email that included photos. "She is currently napping at my feet in the computer room of our house and seems perfectly content."

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jean.merl@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeanmerl

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