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 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
updated 12:34 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT