Animal advocates mourn death of Blossom Animal Rescue founder in Smartsville | TheUnion.com

Animal advocates mourn death of Blossom Animal Rescue founder in Smartsville

Nevada County's animal lovers are a passionate, committed bunch.

So it comes as no surprise that they sprang into action when one of their own, Blossom Animal Rescue founder Novalee Truesdell, was killed in a vehicle collision.

Truesdell's nonprofit organization was based in Smartsville and she had become well-known in the area for her work rescuing special-needs animals. Truesdell, 37, died in a head-on crash on Highway 20 near Marysville on April 26. Her death left her friends and family struggling, not just from her loss, but with the need to ensure all the animals at her ranch could be taken care of.

Complicating the situation, several puppies at the ranch — too young for vaccinations — were diagnosed with parvo, a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs.

Many rescue groups and individuals came to the rescue. Shanna Leslie at Love Creek Sanctuary fostered and headed up medical intervention for the four puppies with parvo. She organized a GoFundMe for veterinary care, quickly surpassing her goal and raising more than $2,200 in three days.

Truesdell had started Blossom Animal Rescue in Santa Rosa, said board members Kathleen Aeschlimann and Karl Bartlett. She moved to Smartsville just three years ago.

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"She was driven to save animals," Bartlett said.

"When she asked us to be on the board, there was no question," Aeschlimann said. "She had a way of brining people together … She was incredibly authentic — it drew people to her."

What set Truesdell apart was her devotion to special-needs rescues, they said.

"She was willing to do the hard work to figure them out, how to help them adjust so they could find a forever home," Aeschlimann said.

In November, Truesdell helped organize the rescue of more than 70 cats and a handful of dogs living in filth in a hoarding situation in Woodland. More recently, she rescued a pit bull used as a bait dog and her puppies from a high kill shelter in Fresno.

While all of the puppies have been fostered or adopted, mom Immie Jean still needs a home.

"She's the only one, as far as I know," Bartlett said. "She's a sweet, gentle dog. She has massive PTSD about other animals so she can't be around anyone with other animals. But I found her to be very trainable, with a lot of love."

At a memorial for Truesdell held at Western Gateway Dog Park Friday, many of her rescues were on hand, including T-Rex, a Chihuahua born with deformed front legs who needed a wheeled cart to get around. Bartlett put together the contraption and T-Rex was going to be mobile once some adjustments were made, he said.

Many of those at the memorial spoke of Truesdell's heart, calling her "the Florence Nightingale" of animals.

"Nova blossomed here," said her father, Paul Truesdell. "Thank you (all) for being her friend."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

How to help

Although enough money was raised to take care of the puppies with parvo, Blossom Animal Rescue still has outstanding debts that include vet bills. You can donate online at http://www.blossomanimalrescue.org/donate.

If you are interested in adopting Immie Jean, text 408-242-5860 or send a message via Blossom’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/blossomanimalrescue/.