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Case of Angel, emaciated dog that died of diabetes complications in foster care, inspires rescue group

Members of L.A.'s pet rescue community work hard to help needy dogs and cats recover from trauma, illness and injury and find new adoptive homes every day. Unfortunately, not all animals can be saved, but sometimes their stories inspire rescuers to continue fighting for homeless pets. Guest blogger Janet Kinosian shares the story of one such group and the dog it was unable to save:

Angel If it had not been for a good citizen posting a photo on Craigslist last fall showing a severely emaciated dog in L.A. County's Carson animal shelter, Angel (who had been dumped there by her family after her severe diabetic condition was neglected for years) would have simply died another anonymous, horrible death and would be yet another anonymous, horrible statistic for severely neglected companion animals.

This is where good citizenship counts.

After seeing a shocking photo of Angel in the Carson shelter posted last August, a Los Angeles-area animal rescue group, Take Me Home, rushed to save Angel and get immediate veterinary treatment for her. According to Leegie Parker, one of the group's volunteers, by the time Take Me Home rescued Angel she had been at the shelter almost a full week without veterinary care, save for increased food, and when rescuers initially called the shelter in alarm, staff said she would be euthanized the next day if no one stepped forward for her.

The veterinarian who cared for Angel after she was pulled by Take Me Home, who has seen numerous abuse and neglect animal cases, told Parker that she'd never seen such a starved and emaciated animal still alive. Angel had lost 30 pounds -- over half her body weight. Parker asks, "If this isn’t animal abuse, what on earth is?"


Angel also had a terrible foot infection, numerous sores on her body, concrete burns, inflamed paws and infected ears with numerous fly strikes. She had apparently been bred numerous times, according to an email on Angel's condition sent by Take Me Home to the greater animal rescue community.

At first, Angel responded well to veterinary care, and her prognosis was cautious but good. She was loved, with warm blankets, soft kisses, toys and treats and, Parker says, she developed quite a bond with her 3-year-old son, Wyatt. Despite her severe neglect, she was trusting, playful and full of love and kisses for whomever passed her way.

We will never know if she had hugs and kisses from her former family, but since her owner reportedly called the local animal control department to have them pick Angel up because she "didn't want her 9-year-old daughter to come home and see the dog dead in the backyard," as she apparently told an animal control officer that day, we can surmise that real love was in short supply.

Sadly, despite the treatment she received, Angel's weakened body was unable to regulate her blood sugar levels at this late stage of her disease, and she passed peacefully in her sleep 12 days later.

Angel Again, this is where good citizenship counts.

Enraged that a dog owner could neglect or refuse veterinary care to their companion animal almost to the point of death, then merely call animal control to dump the dog to let it die a painful, cold and lonely death on cement or face euthanasia, real pressure spearheaded by Take Me Home was put on Compton's city attorney to file felony animal abuse charges against Angel's former owner, which it later did.

All the pretrial proceedings for Angel's former owner, Patricia Bumpers, were regularly attended by animal advocates seeking justice for Angel. Local television and print media covered the proceedings as well.

Almost as shocking as Bumpers' alleged treatment of Angel, Parker believes, is the fact that an animal control officer had visited Bumpers' property in July, checked on the dog and simply advised her owner to increase Angel's food intake. The officer later returned and left a notice to comply for veterinary treatment; he later testified that he could not recall if he made another follow-up contact prior to the dog's arrival at the Carson shelter.

At the beginning of April, the district attorney's office dropped all charges against Bumpers.


According to Take Me Home, the group is reviewing its options and remains determined to keep Angel from being forgotten. It hopes that her story can, in the future, lead to change in the way evidence against pet owners suspected of animal cruelty is collected. Parker says they owe Angel this much.

For updates or more information on Take Me Home's work with needy animals, visit Take Me Home's website.

Hard work, perseverance and one amazing photo save Nico the Dogo Argentino
Poll: More than half of survey respondents say they plan to adopt next pet from a shelter

-- Janet Kinosian

Janet has written freelance for the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Times Magazine and L.A. Times Syndicate for 18 years.  In addition to reporting, she's also a media consultant who can be reached at JanetKinosian.com.

Photos: Take Me Home

Comments () | Archives (11)

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Angel will always be in my mind...

Although there's no question that Angel's original owners should go to jail for their cruel treatment of her, there is another major issue here that's not being addressed.

If it is correct that this dog was in the Carson shelter for an entire week with no medical treatment, then the Carson shelter also violated the law. California's 1998 Hayden Act MANDATES that "shelters should be required by law to take in lost animals and properly care for them with prompt veterinary care, adequate nutrition, shelter, exercise, and water." The Carson shelter, part of the L.A. County system, was required by law to treat her severe emaciation, as well as (reported here) her "terrible foot infection, numerous sores on her body, concrete burns, inflamed paws and infected ears with numerous fly strikes."

Can someone at the Time please ask the L.A. County Dept. of Animal Care and Control Director Marcia Mayeda if it is true that this dog did not receive prompt vet care and, if it is true, who will be held accountable? Our taxes should not pay the salaries of County employees who break the law. If this dog has received prompt vet care, instead of continued neglect, when it was so very obvious that she was in such dire condition, she might have survived. Every symptom described in this article -- again "terrible foot infection, numerous sores on her body, concrete burns, inflamed paws and infected ears with numerous fly strikes" would have been immediately apparent to even a casual observer -- not to mention severely painful for the dog. Any shelter employee who saw her for two seconds should have known she needed to see a vet. Yet she was neglected again by our County system for another week, in clear violation of the law. Where is the accountability?

We must hold these cruel people accountable for their inhumane treatment of animals. These dogs and all animals have no voice and we must speak for them

Ms Bumpers needs to be punished to the highest level of the law. This is not right.

I closely followed this story as it truly breaks my heart. I am so proud of the individuals who have volunteered many, many hours providing love and care and compassion to Angel and who have been so courageous to make sure that this never happens again to another animal. I am so very sad, very angry and very embarrassed that in California a district attorney's office could drop the charges against the owner. Angel's story breaks my heart. The fact that Angel's dog owner has no liability makes me physically ill.

Thank you for writing this very powerful story, Janet. I hope this helps to open people's eyes that by law, all animals must receive proper medical care no matter what! Angel's family should have been prosecuted. Angel will never be forgotten; what a loving, forgiving soul she was.

This dog dies from poor report writing from the responding animal control officer and the shelter staff. Idiots.
R.I.P Angel. We are so sorry you endured this shameful neglect and pain. It is easier on our hearts knowing you died warm in your bed...dreaming of the Rainbow Bridge.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

When you make a commitment to an animal, it is for life, not just when they are healthy. This is outrageous that someone would sit and watch this dog suffer and struggle and not do anything. That is a crime. Neglecting a child is a crime, neglecting a companion pet should be too!

It's tragic that someone can do this to a dog and not be held legally accountable. Surely this is a clear case of neglect and abuse? Patricia Bumpers is apparently a souless woman with no room for love or compassion in her heart. And sadder still, she's getting a free pass for starving poor Angel.

At least Angel had 12 days of knowing what love, peace and GOOD people were.

Thank you TMH for being her guardian angel.

This story give Angel a voice and we need to continue to hear Angela's story

What a shame. I hope that, come election time, that community finds itself with a new City Attorney.


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