You might say Stella Lee of Sherman Oaks is an animal rescuer that has it the toughest — since she focuses on shelter animals that have it the toughest — those held as evidence in abuse cases.
With her non-profit organization, Evidence of Love that she founded in 2008, Lee and her volunteers rescue, rehabilitate and find forever homes for pets that come from severe abuse, neglect, animal hoarding and dog fighting cruelty cases. These animals are normally kept separately from the regular shelter population, often for extended periods of time until the cases are resolved.
“I love all animals and have always had a special place in my heart for evidence animals,” says Lee. “When I first heard of the tragic experiences that most of these animals go through, it really stayed with me.”
EOL rescues evidence dogs and cats from SEAACA Shelter in Downey, as well as LA County, Kern County and San Bernardino County shelters, with hopes of eventually rescuing from LA city shelters.
According to Lee, each animal cruelty case is different and each shelter handles their cases differently. She finds the best approach is to keep in constant communication with the shelter agency and formulate a custom plan to help these animals get out as quickly as possible. This may entail a combination of rehab/medical attention while still at the shelter, regular walks and socialization time, networking for experienced foster/permanent homes prior to the animals being released and raising funds.
“Despite the abusive backgrounds these animals come from, it is amazing how most we’ve rescued that started out with behavior issues have been able to make full recoveries,” Lee notes proudly. “Of course, teamwork between the rescue community, shelter volunteers, foster parents, behaviorists and trainers is often needed to help in the healing process and to help these animals find their way to loving, permanent homes.”
Although the majority of their rescues are evidence animals, EOL also rescues non-evidence shelter animals, owner surrenders and homeless strays, as well as helps other rescue groups with their animals.
Her desire to help fellow rescuers and as many homeless animals as possible, led Lee to organize and host Le Pet Affair, a monthly adoption event in Sherman Oaks. At each event, held every second Sunday at scenic Hazeltine Park, Evidence of Love features their adoptable animals along with up to 25 other rescue groups/shelters, and the event is steadily growing.
For information on Le Pet Affair Adoption Events (including the upcoming one set for Sept. 11), visit http://www.evidenceoflove.org/le_pet_affair