Hello. I’m Lauren Vancouver. Who am I? Well, I save pets.

That’s the most important thing to me–except for my two college-age kids, of course. But they understand how their mother is driven to take care of homeless or abused animals and find them new forever homes. Plus, I adore my own dog Zoey, a beautiful, smart Border collie-Australian shepherd mix.

I was chosen to run a wonderful no-kill private pet shelter in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. HotRescues is fortunate enough to have been founded by Dante DeFrancisco, the wealthy magnate who runs the large pet store chain HotPets, so unlike most shelters we don’t lack for funds.

How was I chosen? Well, some of that story is told in THE MORE THE TERRIER. That’s the newest in the Pet Rescue Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime–and in it I learn that my former mentor Mamie Spelling has become an animal hoarder. I’m horrified, of course, but help to save all the animals. Someone threatening Mamie is killed, and I have to help to clear her. She’s growing older and confused, and she’s cruel to animals without intending to harm them. I don’t believe she’s a murderer.

I suppose I’m the center of the Pet Rescue Mysteries, not that I’m looking for pats on the back or publicity–except to the extent any of that makes people aware of the plight of animals and helps to save some pets’ lives.

But you want to hear about a typical day in my life. It starts at my home in Porter Ranch, not far from the Granada Hills location of HotRescues. Zoey and I wake up and eat breakfast, and I take her for a walk in our neighborhood. Then we both go to HotRescues.

I’m often the first human there except for our overnight security person, but I soon run into our handyman Pete as he arrives and starts toting food bags for our wonderful inhabitants. Our shelter is undergoing an expansion, so we will soon have room to save a lot more animals, which will make me feel really good.

My office is in the main building at the front of HotRescues. I say hi to whatever greeter is in our welcome area, although usually no one arrives for a while after I get there. Then Zoey and I go for a walk through the entire HotRescues grounds, saying hi to the medium and large sized dogs whose kennels front on outdoor pathways, then going inside to visit with our smaller dogs and the cats.

As the day progresses, our volunteers and staff arrive. On good days, we also have a lot of visitors interested in meeting and, we hope, adopting a dog or cat. We screen them carefully, of course. Only people who will provide good homes are wanted.

Every day is different. Sometimes we hold staff meetings. Sometimes I go with Pete or others to a local public shelter to bring in new animals to care for until they’re adopted–saving as many lives as we can, since we are a no-kill shelter and the public ones are not.

There’s a guy who’s with L.A. Animal Services who’s pretty special to me–Captain Matthew Kingston. He’s in charge of the Small Animal Rescue Team and other organizations within the system, and he also keeps me informed about wonderful animals about to be “euthanized”–much too kind a word–for lack of space so I can come to save them or contact other shelter managers for help.

Sometimes I have dinner with Matt. Sometimes I get together with my good friend Dr. Carlie Stellan–a veterinarian you may have heard of, with a wonderful TV show.

Eventually, Zoey and I head home. The same schedule usually fits the next day. And the next. My job is my life and my passion, and if I’m there seven days a week, that’s the way it is.

I’d just as soon not get involved with solving murders, but I never shirk from anything needed to help myself, my animals and my friends.

If you love pets and can provide a good home, be sure to adopt some. Pets quickly become family members.
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You can read more about Lauren and how she helps to save rescue pets in THE MORE THE TERRIER, the second book in the “Pet Rescue” mystery series. The first book in the series is BEAGLEMANIA.

Linda O. Johnston writes the “Pet Rescue” mysteries, a spinoff series from the Kendra Ballantyne, “Pet-Sitter” mystery series. She also writes the “Alpha Force” miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne, about a covert unit of shapeshifters. Visit Linda at www.LindaOJohnston.com

** To celebrate the release of THE MORE THE TERRIER, I’m giving away one copy of the book, thanks to the publisher. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. This is open only to US addresses at the publisher’s request. Contest ends on October 11th at 6pm EST. Winner will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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