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Strangest Angels Animal Rescue

American Dog Magazine Feature


By Carole Raphaelle Davis

Elle Wittelsbach, founder and president of Strangest Angels Animal Rescue in Los Angeles, is not your average rescuer. If you crossed Mother Theresa with Anna Nicole Smith (sans drugs and bloat) and added a shockingly childlike voice that articulates an emotional and informed animal rights point of view, you might capture a glimpse of what this enigmatic woman is about. Of all the things she is—a photographer, an activist; tall, blond, sexy, tattooed, earthy, spiritual, vegan, strong, silly with a twisted sense of humor – she is primarily a savior to death-row dogs.

Elle doesn’t only save dogs. “We take in all breeds and allanimals,” she says, adding, “Most rescues focus on a specific breed or on young animals. We take the seniors, the disabled, and animals who need medical treatment. We concentrate on the euthanasia list—the ones about to be killed due to overcrowding, back yard breeders, and the public not spaying and neutering their animals. We rescue many ‘special needs’ animals. Many are missing an eye or legs, or are genetically disabled. It really floors me that someone can have their fur kid until they are ten years old, and then just dump the dog at the pound. Maybe their children will do that to them at the old folks’ home.”

Most of the animals taken in by Strangest Angels Rescue are placed in foster homes, where they undergo temperament testing, to learn which type of environment best suits their needs.

When Elle was a child, she would bring home stray rats and dying wild birds. She would show them to her father and he would say, “You’re one strange angel.” She says the name stuck, and that’s how she named her non-profit rescue organization.

When asked about a rescue she did that sticks out in her mind, she recounts the story of one particular dog. “I was driving,” Elle recalls. “It was raining and I saw a brown, matted ball of fur on a chain. I pulled my car over. This poor dog was filthy, his fur so over grown you could not tell if he had eyes. His collar was so tight I wondered how he could breathe. There was no water bowl for him, just some rotten chicken with maggots. I asked around about the dog’s animal guardians. One neighbor said they had moved. I unchained this baby and took him home with the help of my friend Theresa Dern. We both cut out his mats full of trash, sticks, rocks and gum. He seemed so happy after that! We dropped him off at the groomer’s and when we returned to pick him up, I almost fell on the floor!

Underneath that dirty, brown, matted coat was a little, silver poodle mix. We got him on KTLA, a Los Angeles television station that features adoptable pets, and we received a phone call from actress and model Rebecca Romijn. She fell in love with him. Talk about your rags-to-riches story!”

Of the animals she saves, Elle says, “They are all angels in a strange way. All animals who want nothing but to love and be loved are just angels in disguise.

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March 31st, 2011 | Comments Off

One Hell of An Angel

I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of speaking with Elle Wittelsbach a few weeks ago. I interviewed her for a Care2 Causes blog, which you can read here: “Strangest Angels is the Saving Grace for Animals Without A Prayer”.
Not only is Elle, rescue queen of Strangest Angels in the LA area, super sweet, super funny, and an all-around doll, she does great things for animals. She takes the dogs and other animals out of the shelters who really need it most: the sick ones, the ones on death row — the ones who nobody else in the world seems to want.

This is Elle’s strategy, which I’m still working on, and which she’s spent years perfecting:What I tell people [is], ‘what you hear is that shelter animals, there’s something wrong with them, but there’s not. It’s a disposable society. People are moving, or they’ve been foreclosed on, or the boyfriend doesn’t like the new dog, or they’re allergic. They dump the animals. So, you can find ANY kind of animal at ANY one of our shelters. You can go to or LA Animal Services…I’m really straightforward about everything. And once people hear about the euthanasia, that usually stops them in their tracks. Let people know, too, there’s rescues for every breed. If you want a purebred…you just google it in your area and it’ll come up, a bunch, a ton. There’s no reason to be buying from a breeder when so many animals are dying every day.
It’s supply and demand. If you stop buying, they’re not going to order more animals from the puppy mill. But if you’re going to keep with the excuses, ‘well, the animal was born,’ and you keep paying for the breeder, well then he’s going to keep having the animals bred. So it’s just an ongoing, vicious cycle. But these people are contributing to it, and they’re coming with an excuse — and I’m there to debate it every time. Online is great because you can send them a video and they learn. Some people need that shocking video to really go ‘Wow, that does happen. I had to see it with my own eyes to really believe it.’

Other words of wisdom, dear Elle?

Don’t lose hope, maintain balance, and try to learn as much as you can and be able to educate the public as much as you can in awareness. And don’t try to save them all because you can’t; it’s the bigger picture. The laws especially — we all need to work with the laws. We change the laws a little here and a littler there. That’s what’s going to help in the bigger picture…You’ve just got to keep a good balance and know that everything you do [matters]. You helped one and you’re going to help more. And you can educate hundreds of people not to give up. If you overwhelm yourself, you’re not going to want to do it, or you’re going to give up, or you’ll have a bad attitude about people. It’s easy to think there’s so many [bad people], but there are some kind people. And even the most ridiculous people…you can help educate and see them do a 180. It’s amazing. Shutting down puppymills is a HUGE part of making changes- vicious cruel cycle-along with too many breeders and many not spay and neutering- BE THE CHANGE!

So there you go. Don’t lose hope. Even the people you think might just be idiots could wake up one day and do a complete turn around. You never know. If YOU are someone who doesn’t know about the importance of the words “Adopt, Don’t Buy”, it’s high time you check out this site: Prisoners of Greed.