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Save-a-Life Non-Profit Cat Rescue
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My name is Ruben Lopez and for 36__years my profession was that of a Publisher/Editor here in So. California. In 2008 I had a business in a huge complex in Hollywood, and discovered we had feral cats living in the back warehouses and parking lots. Rather than having them disposed of, we allowed them to exist, and in 2010 we had them all fixed at FixNation. There was a lot of space, 4 warehouses, 3 parking lots, that easily accommodated their existence. I've always liked cats and fell in love with them during the next few years. They are such wonderful creatures. We named them all, cared for them, lived with them, and tamed as many as we could.

In 2014 the entire block of the complex was sold for redevelopment, and we were forced to move out. Rather than having our wonderful cats (about 50) put down, we moved them to a long standing non-profit 503(1)c NO KILL Cat Rescue in Mojave, California called Save-a-Life. A year later, when Save-a-LIfe itself was deteriorating and facing possible closure, I shut down my business in Los Angeles and moved out to take over, Save-a-Life, not only to save the cats that I had come to know and love, but to save the entire rescue.!.

When I took over, the rescue was in shambles. The two previous tenants had run it into the ground. There were 400 cats and not enough of food. There was feces, urine and bugs everywhere, and no trash pick up. There was no phone service, no electricity or heat for the cats in the winter. There was little vet care. One of the people running the property was allowed to stay on, but because she had been part of this "ruination," she had to adjust to the new direction that myself and our Board of Directors were going. We had to make drastic changes. She was resentful that all her power was taken away, and we found out later, that she was working against all of our efforts.

In the last 18 months, I have helped turn Save A Life around. We have regular trash pick up, regular source of good quality of food. I have re-done the barn and other habitat areas for the cats. We have created warm and safe housing for the cats in the winter. We made a medical quarantine area, and an office for our work. We got phone and internet service back again. I have brought in furniture and have insulated the barn and housing areas for the cats. I spent Thousands of my own dollars to do these things. Myself and my board put our rescue back into good standing as a not-for-profit and have raised more and more donations. Save A Life has 250 cats now, and as much as possible, (living in the middle of a desert!), and have adopted some of the cats out. Slowly but surely we are making this place into a viable, working sanctuary.

At it's worse, before I arrived, this place was not a safe or a decent place for the cats to live. Yet in the years of decline, before I arrived, animal control rarely came out.

Sadly because one resentful helper didn't like our new way of doing things, she began making unfounded reports to animal control. Nearly from the day I stepped on the property, we started having weekly and monthly unexpected visits by animal control officer, Daniel Burgess. He wanted us to change a lot of things . . . and we did! I knew these changes needed to be made and worked with him to comply with all of his requests. I have literally have gone into BANKRUPTCY to make Save A Life a better place. And we thought the animal control officer was pleased. He even reported that the property was clean and the animals were well fed.

Despite putting all this effort for the past year and a half, improving saving Save-a-LIfe, a few months ago, Officer Burgess started a new line of attack. Being triggered once again by false claims, he accused us of not taking better medical care of our cats.


Two months ago, without citing us with anything, Animal Control confiscated 23 of our babies. Some of them had simple colds and yet, within a few days, Kern County Animal Control had killed four of them. . . . three who had no serious health issues and one was under medical care of a vet! To this date, with the four they killed, these 19 cats are still being held at the Bakersfield shelter, despite no charges or citations.

We continued to comply with Officer Burgess from Animal Control, and at one visit, he requested us to take 9 cats to the vet that very day. Were they dying? No! But we followed his orders, stopped everything and off to the vet we went. . . that day! (No small feat, when you live way out in the desert!). Because of miscommunications and a delay on the part of the veterinary clinic, Officer Burgess assumed we had not followed through, nor picked up the medications. Nothing could be further from the truth, and instead of asking us for proof, (we have receipts and records), our next HORRIFIC ENCOUNTER was as follows . . .

On Tuesday August 2nd, with an ARMY of vehicles, ACO Burgess, BROKE through our fence, took 46 more cats and had me arrested. I watched as they walked through every kennel and yard with long nets, catching any cat they could, STRINGING the cats up in their nets with no cloth to cover them or protect them, and ruthlessly hauling them out crying, kicking and jammed them into cages.

It was a horrible sight I will never ever forget.

These were friendly cats that could have been put into carriers calmly and gently. These cats wern't sick. They took gentle, healthy and friendly cats like Goldielocks who sat on our office desk.

Why were these cats taken? We have yet to find out. We have complied and worked with animal control every step of the way.

On this fateful day, I was arrested and put in jail. I was released after 3 days in county jail because charges were not filed. Yes, 3 days in a county jail, and no charges filed.

I am back here at the sanctuary now, and trying to resume my daily duties of cat care. But I never know when ACO Burgess will be back to find more frivolous reasons to arrest me again and take more cats.

I live in constant fear now and so do the animals! We have hired a very good, calm and straightforward animal rights attorney, who will be trying to help us get our cats back, and make sure that Kern County Animal Control has their facts straight.

We need to make sure that what happened last Tuesday will NEVER happen again! We need to make sure that Animal Control does not use bullying and gestapo tactics, especially with Save A Life volunteers who have complied with them at every step of the way.

Today I miss Boo Boo Bear, who loved me constantly and slept in my bed. And I miss Snuggles, the soft gently Siamese that greeted me every morning in the outdoor kennel.

They're gone and my heart is broken. Life has changed here, and the rest of our many friendly loving cats are now scared to death. They used to all come and greet me every morning, and now they're hesitant, afraid, wanting to feel love but not wanting to die.

Between the gas expenses, refurbishing, and cleaning expenses, plus my time and the loss of work at my L.A. business, I'm now broke. But I'm fighting back . . . I've spent over a year working every day improving Save-a-LIfe. I do fundraising, social media, computer work, newsletter creation, driving/delivery, event coordination, cat adoptions, construction, grounds keeping, carpentry, electrical, lighting, legal work, handyman work, and medical assistance for cats.

Plus, I provide enrichment and try to give the cats hope. I've never been paid for my contributions. All this is to save the cats. Trying to save a life of a creature that has no voice to help themselves.

To this date, there's seems to be nothing we can do to get our cats back, or to stop Burgess from seizing more.!! Despite us doing everything he asks, and making sure the property is always clean, and the cats are always cared for and well fed, Burgess continues his vendetta against Save-a-Life, now trying to charge me with "animal cruelty," although nothing could be further from the truth. No one has put as much care and love into these animals as I have.

I have seen and heard of cases where animal control has to step in and help animals get out of living hell. . . . places where the animals have no food or clean water, are very sick and are caged in bad, unclean kennels. I know that sometimes someone should step in. But this is not the case at Save A Life. Everyone (including many experienced rescue groups) who see what's going on here, are shocked and horrified. Animal Control is out of control! There seems to be no oversight to this Kern County branch. They seem to do whatever they want. How they treated the cats on Tuesday August 2nd was animal cruelty.

Personally I am in a very bad position. I can't resign from Save-a-LIfe or animal control will charge me with abandoning the cats and throw the book at me. Plus the cats would likely be put down, and that is NOT AN OPTION. There is no place to take our beautiful cats, and if I stay here and keep trying, Burgess will continue seizing our cats until Save-a-Life is dead and I'm arrested. There seems to be NO WAY OUT and quite frankly we need to fight back and not allow our animals to die. They have a place to live, someone to love them and they are looking for homes.

Our situation is dire. We have gone to the press to ask for help and we are pleading with all animal lovers, feline rescuers and those who seek legal justice. We need those concerned to follow us on Facebook, and make donations to help feed the cats and contribute towards veterinary expenses. And perhaps, most important, we ask that people write to Kern County Animal Control (animalcontrol@co.kern.ca.us) AND ask how cats can be seized like this. Ask how animal control can focus tens of thousands of dollars of tax payers money to harass us, and to seize SAVE-A-LIFE RESCUE IN MOJAVE animals, and hold these poor kitties for months at a time!

Something is very amiss at the Kern County Animal Services. Kern County is supposedly "in the red," yet all this money and time is being wasted on trying to bring our shelter down. We ask for an investigation.

Time is critical. We never know when Officer Burgess may be back and we are very scared. The lives of our animals are truly in danger.



Ruben Lopez
8448 Joshua Lane
Mojave, CA 93501

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8448 Joshua Lane
Mojave, CA 93501
Online donations can be made to
info@save-a-life.org through PayPal

Ruben Lopez

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