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Michelle Sathe: St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary takes in pets at most risk

Posted: December 11, 2015 5:05 p.m.
Updated: December 12, 2015 2:00 a.m.
Photo by KATHARINE LOTZPitbull Lizzie poses for a photo while she awaits to go to her forever home at St. Bonnie’s in Canyon Country. Photo by KATHARINE LOTZPitbull Lizzie poses for a photo while she awaits to go to her forever home at St. Bonnie’s in Canyon Country.
Photo by KATHARINE LOTZPitbull Lizzie poses for a photo while she awaits to go to her forever home at St. Bonnie’s in Canyon Country.

Maggie bounces around the lobby happily, her cropped tail wagging a mile a minute. With her sweet, bubbly personality, it’s hard to imagine that the beautiful two year old Boxer was once tied to a tree without shelter and forcibly bred until she was rescued by the non-profit Lange Foundation.

Today Maggie, along with 33 other dogs, 50 cats, and 16 horses, call the 4.5 acre St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary home. The no-kill facility, operated by the Lange Foundation and located in a rural section of Canyon Country, opened its doors in 2007 and offers shelter, food, medical care, and love to the four-legged residents until they find a family of their own.

“Some are here for a few weeks, others are here for a few years,” said adoption counselor Tara McVeigh. “All of them just really need a chance.”

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary takes in pets at the most risk in municipal shelters, primarily from Lancaster and California City, then gives them the care they need in order to be adopted.

Louie, an adorable Yorkshire Terrier and the sanctuary’s official office dog, was surrendered to a shelter when his owners couldn’t manage his Cushing’s disease. Now back in good health, all Louie requires is twice daily medication and a lot of attention.

“He loves people,” said ranch manager Karen Ashcraft. “There’s a misconception that shelter or rescue dogs can’t assimilate into a family, but nothing could be further from the truth. Adopters email us all the time with photos of dogs lounging in a dog bed on their backs, so happy to be in a home.”

In the sanctuary’s cattery, dozens of feline romp or snooze in the well-appointed, open-air room, complete with scratching posts, carpeted trees, colorful tunnels, and lots of toys.

Kimmie, a 4-year-old black and white beauty, snoozed peacefully before expressing her delight with a series of cute meows as she was petted by a visitor. Meanwhile, a quartet of two-year-old tabbies originally rescued as kittens were intent on exploring their surroundings and getting snuggles wherever they could.

“Adopters just need to sit here and see who likes them,” Ashcraft said.

According to Ashcraft, cats make fantastic pets.

“They’re low maintenance, they don’t need to go outside to go potty or be walked,” she said. “Having a cat has also shown to lower blood pressure.”

All of the pets at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary are featured on the organization’s website at and appointments can be made to meet them seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adoption fees are $125 for cats over a year old, $150 for cats under a year, $250 for adult dogs, and $350 for puppies.

All pets are fixed, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. Adopters fill out a two-page application and home checks are required for dogs or horses.

So far in 2015, there have been 116 adoptions at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary and Ashcraft is wishing for a solid adoption month in December to end the year on a high note.

“Most people in the Santa Clarita Valley don’t know we’re here, so I hope more people become aware. We need more adopters and more volunteers,” Ashcraft said.

Volunteers can help with everything from socialization of cats to walking dogs or grooming horses such as Sadie, a 15-year-old Paint horse from Lancaster shelter, or Popeye, a 28-year-old one-eyed pony rescued from an auction house.

The minimum age to volunteer is 16.

“This is a great place for high school students to get their volunteer hours,” Ashcraft said.

Long-term foster homes are also sought for dogs such as Sammie, a seven-year-old female Shih Tzu with arthritis and vision impairment, who may not find permanent homes due to their health issues. While in foster care, all medical and special diet costs are covered by the Lange Foundation.

Younger dogs can have different obstacles to adoption. That’s why St. Bonnie’s has local trainer Mark Tipton on call to help with common issues such as jumping or poor leash manners.

Lizzie, a gorgeous young Labrador and Pit Bull Terrier mix, was a star pupil, learning to channel her energy into more appropriate behavior.

“After Mark works with these dogs, they tend to get adopted pretty soon,” Ashcraft said.

That’s certainly true for Lizzie, who was originally rescued as a six-month-old pup with a broken femur. After two years, Lizzie is set to be adopted today.

It’s a bittersweet feeling for Ashcraft, who called Lizzie her favorite dog at the sanctuary.

“I’ll bawl like a baby when she goes home, but I’m happy she’s going to a good family,” Ashcraft said. “That’s why we’re here.”

To learn more about volunteering, adopting, fostering, or donating to St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, visit, call (661) 251-5590 or email


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