From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1999:

Sue Avanzino, 56, wife of
Maddie’s Fund president and former San
Francisco SPCA president Richard Avanzino,
died in April from advanced breast cancer.
Recalled Richard Avanzino, “Sue not only
shared her heart and home with me, our three
children Lisa, Amy and Scott, our son-in-law
Joe, and two grandchildren, Michael and
Alexander, but also for 31 years shared my
passion for animals and waged her own personal
campaign on behalf of needy pets. She
fostered underage kittens, rescued stray cats
and dogs, and operated a quasi-adoption
satellite shelter from our home in Moraga,
California. Throughout her life, Sue maintained
an open door policy, not only for her
children’s friends, other family members,
and neighbors, but also for any cats or dogs
in need of shelter, a warm meal and loving
care. In fact, Cricket, a feline companion
who spent 17 years with us, just walked
through the front door one day and never left.

Animals were always part of Sue’s life,”
Avanzino continued. “She was a single mom
for Cindy, a lab mix, long before she became
Mrs. Avanzino. Wherever Sue was, there
inevitably was a dog or cat nearby who
adored her––like Casper, the 19-year old cat,
and Maddy, the 16-year-old Maltese mix,
and Sido, probably her most famous pet companion.
Sido was condemned to death in the
will of her guardian, and the San Francisco
SPCA launched a campaign to save her life.
The precedent-setting case won national
attention, resulting in successful litigation
and legislation that saved Sido and other animals
in similar situations. Sido spent the
remainder of her years with us. She was even
the mascot of Sue’s baseball team. But of all
the animals Sue cared for,” Richard
Avanzino added, “the ones who put the
brightest twinkle in her eyes were her Great
Danes, Toby and Harley. Toby was six
months old and abandoned at the shelter when
we found him. He flunked obedience school,
but grew up to be one of the most loving and
good-tempered of Danes. Harley was a precocious
13-month-old and an alumni of Great
Dane Rescue. Sue was an avid tennis enthusiast,
and Sue and Toby and later Sue and
Harley were regular visitors to the courts.
Everyone had a story about Sue and her dogs.
She loved them dearly and they returned her
affection a hundredfold. Later, when Sue’s
cancer was diagnosed and she was undergoing
intensive treatments, she derived much comfort
and joy from her four-legged family
members. Family, friends and neighbors
mourn her deeply, profoundly missing the
big-hearted and spirited way she embraced
life. Sue Avanzino made a wonderful difference
in the lives of those around her: humans,
felines and canines! Her legacy lives on
through them.”

Jean Friend, founder of the carefor-life
Jean Friend Animal Sanctuary in
Zimbabwe and a major supporter of the
Harare SPCA, died of cerebral malaria in
early May, report Cicely Blumberg and Joy
Giovanini of the South Africa-based
Domestic Animal Rescue Group.

Carolyn Kernes, 48, a dog rescuer
in Luther, Oklahoma, died on April 25
from burns suffered 10 days earlier from trying
to save the dogs in her care from a fire in
her mobile home. Kernes reportedly escaped
the fire once but ran back inside to try to get
more dogs out. Twenty-five dogs were killed;
an unknown number survived.

Catherine Silva, 46, of Anaheim,
California, was killed on May 25 when she
swerved to miss a deer on the new eastern
Anaheim toll road, hit an embankment, and
was thrown from her car. She is survived by
her husband and four sons, ages 16 to 27.

Leslie Danielle Welden, 31, of
Hagerstown, Maryland, left an acquaintance’s
car alongside I-70 in Frederick County
during an argument on May 19, and ran
across three lanes of traffic to the median
strip. Seeing her dog had followed, she ran
back and picked him up. Both were struck
and killed.

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