California Woman Leaves $9 Million to Dogs


A Carmel, CA, woman, Karen Ruhlmann, who died two years ago, left more than $9 million to three canine-care organizations: the SPCA for Monterey County, the Animal Friends Rescue Project in Pacific Grove, CA, and Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah.

The IRS has just cleared the estate for distribution of funds, attorney David S. Mullally announced, and the gift will be divided equally among the three.

Ms. Ruhlmann was 69 years old when she passed in 2012. She was born in Hamburg, Germany, and worked as a graphic designer and art director in Germany, Austria and England before moving to the United States in 1970, according to the Monterey Herald.

She relocated from Pinehurst, N.C., to the scenic coastal city of Carmel in 2000, after the death of her husband, Lony Ruhlmann.

"Karen loved dogs, and any dog in need was a friend of hers," said attorney Mullally. "During her life she adopted and cared for Gypsy, a rescue who was her daily companion. She also helped others with the care of their four-legged friends and supported organizations that provided services for dogs in need."

Gary Tiscornia, executive director of the SPCA for Monterey County, said the generous bequest would help complete the current renovation of the SPCA facility, adding:

"Karen had a passion particularly to see shelter dogs get adopted. Only about 18 to 20 percent of newly acquired dogs in our country come from shelters, and she really wanted to see that number go up, so we thought it would be really fitting to name our dog adoption area for Karen and her husband, Lony."

Mr. Tiscornia’s statistics reflect the longstanding trend cited by Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, who writes that relevant statistics for dogs included in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) 2012 Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook show, “54% of the dogs in homes are purebreds, meaning that they came from a breeder--yet 85% of the pet keepers say they would prefer to adopt from a shelter or rescue group.”

--1981 (Nasser study) 19.4% of dogs from shelters, 26% from breeders
--2002 (APPA study) 17% of dogs from shelters, 29% from breeders
--2012 (APPA study) 20% of dogs from shelters, 54% from breeders

“This is an extremely wide gap between what people claim they would do and what they actually do,” says Clifton, “but it parallels the trend of the past 30 years:”

It is hard to predict whether Ms. Ruhlmann’s generous gift can change this historical trend for adoption of dogs in Monterey County, but it certainly will positively impact the lives of many.

Source: Monterey Herald


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