Dogs belonging to woman found dead in collection box fostered

Trevor Morgan / The Signal

The two dogs, Ripley and Banjo, who belonged to the woman who was found dead in a donation collection box in October, have been fostered.  

Laurie and Rob, Ripley and Banjo’s new owners, said they were unaware of their new dogs’ backstory but both were visibly moved to learn what they had done.  

“My first reaction was that I wanted to give the dogs a chance to find a home, I really thought maybe I’d be last in line,” said Rob, who had heard the dogs’ owner was deceased, but was unaware of the details until arriving at the shelter. “I just sent this, this email… here just to just say, ‘Hey, I don’t know how many people have already stepped up.’ Maybe the dogs are already gone. Maybe the dogs are already taken care of but if not, maybe I can help out.” 

According to representatives at the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control shelter in Castaic, these dogs were on borrowed time. There’s only a certain duration dogs can be kept in kennels before they’re euthanized, according to the shelter, due to the overwhelming number of unsheltered animals since the pandemic.  

But Banjo and Ripley don’t have to worry about that any longer — they’re headed to Laurie and Rob’s house. The couple asked that their last names not be used, and declined to appear in photos, because they did not want the publicity – they said they simply wanted to make sure these dogs survived and found a good home. Laurie and Rob said they were in need of some new companions, following their dog’s death just over a year ago.  

“We’ve never done a fostering program before. But I would say [fostering] is a more attractive option than just committing to an adoption right away. You know, then you give the dogs a fighting chance to find a home,” said Rob.  

Alec Torres, a local dog trainer from an organization called The Mannered Mutt, offered free private sessions to help the dogs’ new potential parent or adopter, now Rob and Laurie, to learn the best ways for caring for the two senior dogs. Ripley is an 11-year-old Dalmatian and Banjo is a 9-year-old Siberian husky.  

Torres was present as the two dogs were picked up and said to see a happy ending to a tragic story was heartwarming.  

“To see the story resolved like this is really exciting. This is the culmination of about 50 hours of about 20 people’s efforts and all of us coming together to make it happen,” said Torres. “Through the whole process, there were a lot of naysayers. They kept saying this couldn’t be done, wouldn’t be done, it can’t be done in time. And I just kept saying, ‘Well, you know, we’re gonna focus on what we’re doing. We’re gonna keep it going, keep it going in the right direction.’ And so here it is.” 

The dogs’ former owner, now identified as 58-year-old Anita Raphael, did not have immediate next of kin to deliver her dogs to – hence their deliverance to the Castaic Animal Shelter.  

“I mean, we kind of had heard about [Raphael],” said Laurie. “We didn’t really know much about her, we actually hadn’t really heard anything about it until [we received] an email and then [Rob] called that night and [The Manner Mutt] called the next day.” 

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