The executive director of the Animal Rights Foundation took her own life Monday evening--- taking 31 of her rescue dogs with her.


MORELAND HILLS -- The death of an animal activist is sending shock waves through the animal rescue community.

The executive director of the Animal Rights Foundation took her own life Monday evening --- taking 31 of her rescue dogs with her.

This story has such a tragic ending for both the family who lost a wife and mother -- and also all the rescue dogs that were given a second chance at life.

Sandy Lertzman left a suicide note for her family. Without knowing what was inside, many are wondering why this had to happen.

Police found the body of Sandy Lertzman inside her garage. Police say the car was running with Sandy and 31 small rescue dogs inside.

"It's absolutely one of the most tragic stories because she had all the right intentions of helping those puppies," said Gina Lutes-Finley, Director of Dogs Unlimited Rescue.

Gina saves neglected and abused animals. Gina knew Sandy and understood her compassionate heart for rescuing animals but also knows how overwhelming it gets caring for so many needy pets.

"She wanted to continue to rescue and save these animals but, unfortunately, nobody can take care of 30 animals, properly, by themselves," said Lutes-Finley.

Sandy made it her mission to fight pet auctions and puppy mills where animals are poorly cared for leaving many with serious and often fatal health conditions.

The question is -- why would someone who was so passionate about saving a life take it away in a garage?

Gina can only speculate that Sandy felt her dogs were better off dead than back in unsafe conditions after she was gone.

"I can see why it would be so hard to walk away but you can't do it alone, and that's the bottom line," said Lutes-Finley.

Sandy also leaves behind 20 cats. Gina is helping to find all of them homes. As for the dogs that died inside the car, one survived and is now with Sandy's husband Rick Lertzman..