Animal Hero of the Month: Karen Roselli

Animals from coast to coast have an ally in their corner: Karen Roselli, our Animal Hero of the Month for January.

Karen arranged transport to bring Tasha from a high kill shelter in California to Louisiana.
Karen arranged transport to bring Tasha from a high kill shelter in California to Louisiana.

Our Animal Hero of the Month award winner for January is Karen Roselli of Southern States Rescued Rottweilers in New Orleans.

Karen is the lead transport coordinator for Southern States Rescued Rottweilers, but this commitment is one of many for her. In addition to working a demanding job as assistant district council, Karen is devoted to animal welfare.

She is also a member of the National Animal Disaster Rescue Team (NDART), the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), an animal cruelty investigator for the Humane Society of Louisiana, a responder for the Marine Mammal Conservancy (dolphin and whale rescues), Red Rover Animal Response Team, member of multiple rescues, assists a host of organizations locally, and is on the road transporting animals every spare minute she finds.

It’s easy to see why Karen was nominated for this award.

The Nomination

Karen’s nomination was sent in by someone who wished to remain anonymous:

Hi, I wanted to nominate Karen Roselli for your animal hero award! This woman is an animal advocate for so many people, groups and animals, and calling her a driving force would be an understatement (and a pun since she’s on the road so much!). She fosters, adopts and transports animals all over, and in a recent trip she drove to Atlanta and back in one day just to make sure the pups got to where they needed to go!

I don’t know anyone who puts for as much time as she does, and I have no idea if and when she sleeps. But every animal lucky enough to cross her path instantly has a brighter outlook on life. I would be so honored if you would consider her for this.

Prizes

Here’s what our 2014 Animal Hero of the Month award winners receive:

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on the list of winners
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon
  • $50 cash award

About the Organizations

Being involved in so many animal welfare organizations, Karen might be found in any number of states. She has been deployed to various rescue and relief missions: dogfighting and cockfighting busts in Florida, hoarding rescues and flood disasters in Mississippi, Hurricane Sandy rescue in New Jersey, Hurricane Isaac rescue in Louisiana and anywhere else an animal needs help.

Karen assists local shelters and rescues as often as possible. Some of them include the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter, Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, Louisiana SPCA, Animal Aid for Vermillion Parish, the SULA Foundation and Villalobos Rescue Center.

Karen’s pets would have some interesting stories to tell about their past lives before coming to her home. Whether it’s love at first sight at an adoption event like Jackson, a last-minute save from euthanization as in Rascal’s case, a third chance for a twice-returned shelter pup, or organizing transport to pull a dog from a high-kill shelter in California so the German Shepherd could have a home, there seems to be no limit to Karen’s efforts — efforts that have resonated and become instilled in her daughters, who also help animals.

Karen’s car sees a lot of mileage and countless crates, but it’s because of her that so many animals have a second — or third — chance at life and love. May every animal be fortunate enough to encounter her on their journey.

Q&A With Karen Roselli

1. Karen, what got you started helping animals?

My mom always had a deep love for animals, nature and the environment. She volunteered at our veterinarian’s office and then later as a docent at the Chicago and San Francisco zoos and several wildfire sanctuaries.

I don’t think I made a conscious decision to help animals because caring for and having compassion for animals was a fundamental part of how I was raised. Helping other living creatures in need and being a voice for the voiceless is part of my DNA.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

Going to the zoo in my hometown of New Orleans. Today, the Audubon Zoo, which is part of several nature facilities run by the Audubon Nature Institute, is a wonderful, modern, spacious zoo. However, back in the 1960s the New Orleans zoo was an awful place for animals — tiny filthy cages with depressed animals staring sadly out from behind bars like the prisoners they were. It was not a happy place, and I always felt sad by the time the visit was over.

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

When I was about 7, my mom took me to a local animal shelter, and we adopted a tiny black kitten who I named Mouse. I had been begging for a pet for a while, and my parents finally gave in.

4. What is your favorite animal?

Dogs.

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

In 1997 I was with my youngest daughter Alex at an adoption event, and she fell hard and fast for a Belgian shepherd puppy. We already had one dog and two cats, and I was not in the market for another pet. This was the dog’s last chance to get adopted as he was to be euthanized the next morning. After we left, Alex cried all the way home and most of the day and night. A good friend of mine had been working at the adoption event, and that evening I called her to see if she could get the dog out of the shelter before he was put down.

The next morning we drove over to her house to celebrate Easter Sunday. Alex was miserable thinking that the dog had been put to sleep. We were in the backyard when my friend excused herself for a moment. A few minutes later she returned with Rascal.

The expression of pure joy on my daughter’s face brings tears to my eyes even now as I recall that moment. We named him Rascalhound for the true rascal he was. On May 28, 2013, Rascal made the trip to the Rainbow Bridge. He was 16 ½ years old. I miss him every day.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

The least number of pets I have had was two dogs. The highest number was five dogs, two cats and three turtles.

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

We have a great mama!

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

Approximately 8 million dogs and cats end up in shelters each year, and an estimated 3-4 million of them are euthanized annually.

There are ways that these numbers can be reduced and other similar problems can be addressed, which in my opinion include:

  1. Enacting much stricter animal welfare laws (particularly with respect to mandatory spay and neuter requirements, the regulation and licensing of dog/cat breeders, puppy mills, dogfighting, animal cruelty and neglect, and animal shelter standards and reform)
  2. Aggressive enforcement of animal welfare laws and prosecuting violators with a zero-tolerance policy
  3. Imposing meaningful sentences and penalties

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

It’s hard to think of an animal species that is safe from human beings. Wild animals are hunted as trophies and for their pelts/hide, horns, antlers (deer, wolves, cheetah, tigers, polar bears, elephants, sharks, bears, lions, rhino, elk, moose, alligators), and others are fought by humans for sport (dogs, bulls, roosters, bears).

Dogs, cats and other domesticated animals are over-bred, subjected to torture, cruelty, neglect and imprisoned in shelters.

I would want to be reincarnated as one of my own dogs. That way I would be certain that I would have a loving home, that I would always be safe and that I would never want for anything.

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

All of them of course! Mouse, Suzette, Bait, Brandy, Callie, Shiloh, Dixie and Rascal.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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