The Angel of Death Row

- They are the dogs of death row.

  • Beauty:  Fifteen years old, arthritic and blind; she was  deemed “useless”.
  • Baby Sal: So neglected and malnourished by his owners, his cute little head cock is really the result of permanent damage.
  • Juliet: The majestic Doberman, with a cancerous tumor the size of a cantaloupe; unable to walk and in urgent need of surgery,  she was left to die.
  • and Mr. Jacks: Paralyzed from the waist down, whomever owned him sat back and watched him drag himself bloody.

All of them loving dogs who came within minutes of being euthanized because no one wanted them…until they were saved by an angel.

“I go for the ones that no one’s going to get. That’s the ones I go for because I know they are going to be euthanized”, Tina Marie Lythgoe tells me, tears in her eyes. “It’s all about a second chance. I just believe in second chances.”

Tina Marie is known as the “Angel of Death Row”, a woman who gives unwanted and dying animals a second chance at life….and at love.

“I only go to the medical ward where the dogs are broken. They're so broken” she explains. “I go to bat for them. I get them the best doctors. I get them the best of everything. And I have a great success rate. Half dead, I bring them back to life.”

Tina Marie, a dog groomer who’s been rescuing animals since she was fourteen years old, runs her own non-profit called “Josh and his Critters” in Sun Valley. The rescue named after one of her many rescues Josh, a little guy who was dumped because he has a cleft palate.

Unwanted and unloved until Tina came along, he is just one of Tina’s many success stories.

“The hardest part is choosing who gets to come home”, she says. “If I have enough money at the time I'll get two. If I have even more money I'll pull three. I cry leaving the shelter all the time.”

And it’s not only dogs that she rescues.

“Gophers, chickens, rabbits, oh gosh all kinds of things”, she says as Homer, a pigeon she rescued, lands on her head. “I really believe all animals deserve a second chance, no matter what it is.”

Like “Fuzzy Lumpkin’, the kitty with aids we see all snuggled up and sleeping on a soft bed.

Or the baby pigeon brought to her because he was born with no feet. Not a problem, she says. “There’s a 3D printing company in Burbank. I am going to reach out to them to see if they will make him some prosthetics.”

‘No’ is just not an option for this optimist, although she’s adamant that no animal suffer needlessly. “No one ever suffers on my watch. I will not let any animal suffer on my watch. I will help them cross over when the time comes.”

As with all rescues, money is always an issue. There never seems to be enough.

Tina gets by with donations, the help of loving volunteers and Dr. Mark Hohne, her neighbor and friend who runs the East Valley Veterinary Clinic and has helped her save countless animals.

“I just think their life was over at one point and then she adopts them and now they’re fine”, says Dr. Hohne.

But with approximately 48 thousand animals cycled thru LA County shelters yearly – 44% of which are euthanized for different reasons, the need is great. Tina Marie knows that but she’s an optimist, focusing only on what she can do and that’s saving animals, one tail at a time.

Like Juliet, the Doberman who couldn’t walk.

Since our interview, Dr. Hohne performed that life-saving surgery to remove the tumor and her leg. And yes, Tina Marie was in the operating room alongside “her girl” for the entire operation.

And after a long time of being in excruciating pain, Juliet is now walking just fine on three legs and happier than ever.

“I put my blood, sweat and tears into these animals. I give them every ounce of love that pumps through my heart into them. It's nonstop”, says Tina. “There’s so much love that I give them and they give it right back to me. It’s amazing.”

For more information on Tina Marie’s rescue and to follow Juliet’s journey,visit the Josh and his critters official Facebook page.

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