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LA Animal Rescue Of The Week: Ace Of Hearts

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 01/31/11 07:27 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:30 PM ET

Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue in Los Angeles is a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing dogs and providing them with loving homes. Founder Kari Whitman notes that the inspiration for the foundation came in 2001, after her Bulldog Ace, whom she had rescued from death row at a shelter, passed away. Whitman says, "when he died, I channeled my grief and frustration into trying to save other shelter dogs like Ace and find them loving homes. This ultimately grew into my non-profit Ace of Hearts."

Photos and Photo captions courtesy of Ace of Hearts.

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Previously trained as a vet tech, Whitman started volunteering alongside Cesar Milan and with other rescue shelters, before she began running Ace of Hearts out of her own home. But what began as a personal mission turned into a full-fledged organization, and Whitman found that, "once people found out what [she] was doing and trying to do, they were eager to help volunteer in any way they could." These volunteers made it possible for Ace of Hearts to now "have a full-time Operations Manager and hundreds of volunteers who help with dog walking, transport, adoptions, fostering, office work and more."

Whitman notes that her non-profit's work has already helped over 2,000 animals and considers saving their lives to be the foundation's "greatest accomplishment," noting that "every dog we save is spayed/neutered, provided with any medical care, rehab or specialized training they need." She has also taken her passion outside of LA, and in the 10 years she has worked with Ace, has helped rescue dogs that were abandoned during Hurricane Katrina and wild fires throughout Southern California. Whitman remarks, "since we specilize in 'bully breeds,' [such as bull dogs] we're often called upon to take in dogs from all over the country that others are reluctant to rescue because of their breed, size or need for rehabilitation. "

According to Whitman, "LA County shelters euthanize about 500 animals every single day," which is "the highest kill rate of any major urban city." Her goal with Ace of Hearts is "to make Los Angeles a no-kill city." To that end, the foundation has "fought hard to help pass the mandatory spay and neuter law back in 2008," in order to avoid animal overpopulation and continues to provide community outreach and fight for enforcement of the law.

Like many foundations, Ace of Hearts faces new challenges in a bad economy. "Funding a non-profit is always challenging and this tough economy has made it even harder to continue to save animals from death row," Whitman says. "We're also fielding lots of calls from victims of the foreclosure crisis who have lost their homes and are desperate to find an alternative to surrendering their beloved pets to shelters, or worse." But with her foundation's continued hard work, Whitman is hopeful that Ace of Hearts will be able to help even more abandoned and neglected animals find permanent homes.

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