Skip to main content

Ohio animal rights activist kills herself, 31 rescue dogs, police say

By Haley Draznin, CNN
updated 9:02 PM EST, Sun November 10, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Founder of Animal Rights Foundation found dead in running car with 31 rescue dogs
  • Investigators found prescription vials in the vehicle and a suicide note inside the house
  • One dog survived and is recovering at home with founder's husband and son

(CNN) -- The founder of an animal rescue organization in Ohio committed suicide, taking dozens of pets with her, the Moreland Hills Police Department told CNN.

Sandy Lertzman, 62, founder of the Animal Rights Foundation, was found dead November 4 inside her garage in a running car alongside 31 small rescue dogs, police said.

Investigators found prescription vials in the vehicle and a suicide note inside the house.

According to Sgt. Janet Boehler, a friend discovered Lertzman's body. It is unclear how long Lertzman and the pets had been dead before they were found. Lertzman was last seen alive November 3.

Family rescues dog that was shot
Cop finds dog tied up, giving birth
Rescue dogs help save flood victims

An organization that rescues and rehabilitates all types of animals, Animal Rights Foundation considered Lertzman a pioneer in animal rescue.

"She woke every day to help all of God's beautiful creatures. She fed the deer, squirrels, birds, raccoons, geese and what she called 'Sandy's Safe Haven For All Animals' at her home,'" a statement on the Animal Rights Foundation website said.

According to Boehler, one dog survived. Police say it jumped out of the car, and they found it in garage when they entered the home.

The surviving dog is recovering at home with Lertzman's husband, Rick, and son, Matthew.

"Animal Rights Foundation will continue, as strong as ever, in Sandy's memory," the organization said on the website. "We will go on caring, supporting, and helping all animals in distress and supporting laws to protect our animals in her honor."

Animals returned to widow after husband frees exotic animal, shoot self

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:20 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
updated 1:32 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT