Saturday, November 9, 2013

Things That Make Me Go Grrrrr.....One Rescuer Tragically Takes Her Own Life And The Lives Of 30 Dogs

Photo from
This morning I woke to find a terribly unsettling article. Sandra Lertzman, an executive director of an Ohio rescue group, was found dead in her car in her garage. She had been missing since last Sunday. In her house authorities found a suicide note along with prescription medication. What they found inside the running car in the garage was devastating. Next to Ms. Lertzman's body were the bodies of 30 lifeless dogs, many of them puppies. Only one puppy survived by somehow escaping the car and finding an opening in the garage to access clean air until rescue came.

Many, if not all of us have been affected by depression at sometime in our lives, be it personally or through a friend or family member. It is a horrible affliction and often one sees no possible escape through that dark tunnel. Make no mistake, Sandra Lertzman's death is a tragedy, yet what is so confounding is after spending the better part of her life nobly devoted to rescuing dogs, she felt the need to murder 31 of them when she left this earth. It was a cowardly act, one that will unfortunately outshine what could have been her incredible legacy.

In reading some of the comments expressed on this situation I have been amazed at the response from fellow rescuers, the majority focusing on praising Ms. Lertzman and sharing the opinion she took her own life as a result of the lifelong toll that rescue had taken on her :

"You are right. She should have taken those puppies to the local shelter so they could be immediately stressed, confused and then killed. Because that would be better. Are you just full of crazy?"

"How do you think they would fare at the shelter. Not well at all. So why let them end with terror when they could be with you, happy and not frightened. If you've never been there, you have no right to judge."

"Better that they crossed over the Bridge with her, than on a cold table with their muzzles tied and no one to love them as they died."

Others simply commented on their own rescue horror stories without offering any sympathy or condolences to Ms. Lertzman or the dogs she took with her, as apparently they saw in the article a perfect opportunity to extol nothing but their own virtue.

Sandra Lertzman must have been a wonderful, incredible woman to have devoted so much time helping animals find loving homes. It is a shame her last action will, for some time, be the one for which she is most remembered.

Those rescuers who can't see any fault in that action? They are the ones with blinders. Nearly every individual I know in rescue shares one key opinion, animals are equal to us and should be treated as such. To those who share this feeling let me ask you some questions. If Sandra Lertzman, or any individual with a lifelong debilitating psychological illness, ran a home for abandoned children and then seeing no positive option took it upon themselves to place those children or babies in an exhaust filled garage as one last act of "kindness", would you be spouting off on a message board about how hard the toll of working for years with abandoned children must have been on that individual? Would you be saying those children are better off than being bounced around from foster home to foster home? I didn't think so.

Sandra Lertzman was a victim. A victim of an often shunned illness that not everyone can or chooses to understand. We must not forget however, that due to her final act there are now 30 other innocent victims. I feel deeply for Ms. Lertzman. I feel deeply for those dogs. I hope that soon one little survivor of this tragedy will be in a home filled with love. I just wish 30 other dogs could have had that same chance, and that Sandra Lertzman could have been the one to make it happen.


  1. I think you are being terribly harsh on this poor woman. Step back and try for one minute just how awful things must have been for her to have done this. If she had devoted her whole life to the welfare of animals and yet had suffered a mental breakdown her thoughts were not straight in her mind. Be more forgiving. She must have felt she was doing them a favour. Saving them.
    If it had been children it would have been a different scenario altogether. Children grow up to be self sufficient adults. Dogs would always need the help of humans. Those same humans that cause them such tragedy.
    Charity starts at home

  2. I personally believe that no one should comment on a person's reasons for suicide. You have no idea what was going on in her life or her mind and heart and I think it is totally disrespectful to comment or try to come up with some reason that suits your personal fancy, you or anyone else that is. I do believe one thing is true though and that is that people who involve themselves in animal rescue may be more empathetic than others and thus the world and the cruelty that goes on in our world may just affect them that much more. To say it had anything to do with rescue is reaching for an excuse for why she may have done this. The truth is we will never know and the only appropriate response is to offer our condolances to her friends and family and respect the good that she did in her lifetime for the animals she saved.