Ace of Hearts dog rescue

Dogtime salutes Southern California’s Ace of Hearts.

How did your organization get started?

I founded Ace of Hearts in 2001 after my amazing American Bulldog “Ace” passed away. I rescued Ace from a shelter in 1990 and was immediately smitten. When he died, I channeled my grief and frustration into saving other shelter dogs and finding them loving homes. We’ve saved the lives of over 2,000 dogs–as well as several horses, rabbits, cats, birds, and the occasional goat!

What is your mission?

Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue is a 501 (c) 3 foundation dedicated to rescuing dogs the day they are scheduled to be euthanized from Los Angeles shelters and placing them in qualified, loving homes. We rescue all breeds, and specialize in bully breeds, but don’t discriminate against any! We rehabilitate and place dogs in the right homes. We believe through education, spay and neuter, and proper “people training”, we can achieve our mission to make Los Angeles a no-kill city.

Ace of Hearts has also undertaken a campaign to educate underserved, low-income communities about the importance of spaying and neutering pets–which is now the law in L.A.! We offer informational fliers, vouchers for services and help coordinate transportation for pets in South Central and East Los Angeles.

How do most of your animals find their way to you?

We find out about dogs in danger of euthanasia from shelter workers, internal volunteers and other rescue groups. We’ll also take a look at shelters when one of our volunteers is there to pick up another dog we’ve rescued. Since Ace of Hearts specializes in bully breeds, we’ll often be contacted when someone finds an abused or abandoned dog others are reluctant to take in because of their size or breed or need for rehabilitation.

Ace of Hearts doesn’t only serve dogs in the Los Angeles area–we rescued 6 dogs that were victims of Hurricane Katrina, and took in dogs and horses abandoned during the devastating wildfires here in Southern California in 2007 and 2009. With the foreclosure crisis, we’re also seeing a rise in highly adoptable dogs in shelters like purebreds and puppies. We’re working with guardians who have lost their homes to help them find ways to avoid surrendering their pets to shelters–either finding temporary homes for dogs or pet-friendly apartments.

What happens to the animals once they are in your care?

After they’re rescued, they receive any medical care they may need, get spayed/neutered, and then they live with our trained fosters until they’re adopted. We believe you can’t place a dog you don’t know so none of our rescues are ever kennelled or caged. We rely on our fosters to not only give dogs love and care, but also update us with any personality “quirks” or need for special training. As a result, our return rate is only about 1%!

Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.

Rutherford is an American Bulldog. When he arrived at the shelter, he was actually seriously underweight, had an eye infection and then caught kennel cough. On the day he was scheduled to be euthanized, a team of Ace of Hearts volunteers and shelter volunteers rallied to save his life. The shelter was running out of space and he was running out of time. But Rutherford was not a likely candidate for adoption. He had a bad cold, really bad skin conditions, and is 5 years old…not to mention, he’s enormous!

Rutherford… that face!

Still, Ace of Hearts saw a dog who deserved to live. Despite his ailments, they pulled him from the shelter and arranged for foster care. Incredibly, Rutherford was adopted by someone who came to an Ace Adoption to see other dogs; when she saw Rutherford, it was love at first sight! Through the amazing efforts of Ace volunteers and shelter workers, we were able to save his life 3 hours before he was scheduled for euthanasia. And now this big guy has found a forever home…and a new hat.

Rutherford in his new home.