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FAMILY   -   PET CARE
New Leash on Life
Animal Rescue Finds Home in Santa Clarita
February, 2005 - Issue #5
Phoenix's owners dropped her off in an alley to fend for herself. Courage was dumped at a shelter, but not before his owners barb-wired his muzzle shut. Lulu was abandoned after she was caught playing with robbers intent on stealing from the car repair shop she was left alone to guard. Venus was found in the middle of the street, bleeding profusely. Pregnant with her first litter, she had been raped and assaulted with sticks.

Without a future, without hope, each of these animals could have met an untimely death at the hands of their owners, the over-populated county shelters, or any of the numerous pitfalls that plague homeless pets. But they didn't.

Instead, they were rescued by a no-kill shelter, New Leash on Life (NLOL). They were given medical care, regular healthy meals, loving strokes, and in the case of Courage, a permanent home.

NLOL was created in 1997 by founders Bobby and Kelly Dorafshar. The couple, frustrated by a deteriorating shelter system, could no longer watch as countless numbers of beautiful animals were "destroyed" due to a lack of quality homes and safe shelters. The dream to take action became reality, and after five years in operation, NLOL has rescued and placed over 1,500 dogs, spayed and neutered thousands more, and provided free educational seminars at local shelters.

In 2002, NLOL signed a lease for 13 acres on Placerita Canyon. Now a safe haven for dozens of pets, the space also functions as a learning resource center for children and adults. The property features a two-story home that's dog- and people-friendly (used for education, rehabilitation and adoption), a salt water pool (better for the animals than chlorine), a park-like dog run, a hammock area for cuddling, and large outdoor kennels for New Leash's special guests.

And boy, are there a lot of them. On a cool but sunny December afternoon, I was personally introduced to over 20 of NLOL's canine residents. I met a coyote/Shepard mix that loved to fetch Frisbees from the pool. My heart leapt when big, beautiful Lucky climbed into the hammock with me, muddy paws and all. Naomi won my affections with her puppy kisses and ability to understand commands. Each dog had a story, none of them ideal, but that didn't stop them from licking my fingers or wagging their tails. It didn't stop them from hoping, from dreaming. It was a lesson in optimism that I'm sure I learned long ago, but the reminder couldn't have come at a better time.

And then it hit me: if not for NLOL, each one of these animals would have been put down. Euthanized. Killed. I witnessed what the Dorafshars knew long ago - every one of these animals deserved a second chance at life.

With the ambitious goal of turning Los Angeles into a no-kill city always on their mind, the staff of NLOL created a fundraiser that has earned national attention. Nuts for Mutts, a dog show for canines of mixed lineage, was featured on the cable channel Animal Planet and is available for franchise to other organizations. This year's Nuts for Mutts will be held at Pierce College on March 20. Hosted by Kim Basinger, the show celebrates common mutts competing, performing and helping to raise funds for New Leash On Life. Mixed-breed dogs strut their stuff in front of a panel of celebrity judges in categories such as "Best Kisser," "Fastest Eater" and "Mystery Mutt" in order to compete for the prestigious title of "Best in Show." Entry spots go quickly and can be reserved by logging on to the organization's website, www.newleash.org.

If you are without mutt but still interested in helping NLOL with their mission, volunteer opportunities are available. Interested parties can contact Carole Mumford, director of volunteers, at 255-0097, extension 107. The next volunteer orientation will be on February 19 at 10 a.m. at the ranch on Placerita Canyon Road. Volunteers perform valuable services, like playing with and walking the dogs, grooming, mobile pet adoptions, humane education, pet-assisted therapy and more. You can volunteer with family or friends, or arrive solo and spend more time with your new canine buddies.

And if you think that Naomi, Lulu, Lucky, Phoenix, or any of the other dogs residing at NLOL would be a welcome addition to your home, stop by PetSmart in Stevenson Ranch the last Sunday of every month from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., or call New Leash on Life directly at 255-0097. Some of the dozens of dogs that desperately need loving homes are featured on the following pages.
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