Articles and stories from the press:
Susan Clark, Midwife to a Gosling
June 13, 2013
On May 30, Topanga Animal Rescue founder Susan Clark was midwifef or this baby chick. “After many hours of struggling to push out of hiseggshell,” said Clark, “he got into trouble so I had to remove him from CLARK the egg and revive him somewhat (no mouth to mouth!). It was more a goose version of a C-section and not for the faint hearted! Isn’t he just the cutest thing? A ball of fluff!”
Here he is sleeping after a very long, hard day! Welcome to the world little guy!
To report an injured animal, for more information or to donate to
Topanga Animal Rescue: (310) 455-7268, is the Hotline that forwards
to Clark at (818) 434-0880 for rescues, emergencies and animal care; or Gosling that was hatched with the help (818) 434-0828 for Ken Mazur (administrative, financial, webmaster). of Susan Clark of Topanga Animal For non-emergencies: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: Rescue.
Malibu Times, May 23, 2004
Stacy contacted Susan Clark, the founder of Topanga Animal Rescue. Susan, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland is a veterinary nurse who serves as the head of TCEP’s small animal division. She is a member of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce and is on the Topanga Town Council. She has also been asked to represent animal issues on the LA County Board of Supervisor’s advisory committee on Disaster Preparedness. Susan quickly organized a Topanga Animal Rescue team to address the cat problem. With Stacy’s help they have determined that there are approximately thirty animals of various degrees of wildness. Braving the skunks, and using have a heart traps, they have already captured eleven and have delivered them to Dr Lisa Newall and Dr. Nancy Smith at the Malibu Animal Hospital where they are receiving medical exams. The cats are being neutered and are available for placement in suitable homes. If anyone has an interest in adopting one of these local feline characters please call Susan at 310 455 7268.
Topanga Messenger, February 16, 2004
It was late in the afternoon when I received the call. I had worked with this woman for many years, addressing her cat population problem, finding homes for kittens and their almost feral mothers. Indeed, on one occasion I dragged my husband and his friend, just in form the east coast, to her Topanga cabin to attempt de-worming and health checks. Two grown men and one animal nurse were outfoxed and outrun by about thirty feral kittens, mothers and males. They seemed to defy the laws of gravity, not only climbing the walls but actually running on the ceiling too! Fighting inappropriate light and numerous hiding holes we managed to de worm only one mother. Only a cat net would eventually work on this colony.
But today’s call was not about a cat. It concerned one of the many dogs also living on the property. The initial story was that the dog had gone under a hot truck and was severely burned. Hurrying over to rush the dog to the vet, a quick check revealed no burns but a broken leg and possibly punctured lung. The dog was in bad shape. Different stories were given to me by three different people, all under the influence. As they argued amongst themselves, I struggled to explain that the dog needed a vet immediately. Eventually, I broke into their discussion and the dog got the veterinary care it needed .
The next day I checked in to see how things were going. One of the women was extremely grateful and asked how my baby was. I told her he was fine and inquired about the dog. Under the influence again, she repeatedly asked me about my baby and again I said , that he was fine. The entire conversation about the dog was punctuated with repeated ‘how’s the baby?’ Eventually, as I managed my way to my car , the women kept trying to press a nesting doll in my hand. For those of you who do not know what a Russian nesting doll is, they are wooden bean shaped containers with painted faces and dresses that pull apart in the middle to reveal another smaller doll that pulls apart to reveal a smaller doll etc. There can be four or five of them inside each other. I realized it was a thank you gift, not an usual gesture in my line of work. I gratefully refused but she insisted by placing the doll on my car console as I was leaving.
For days I drove around with the doll sitting idly in my car. The following Wednesday I attended a mommy and me class for toddlers. I had signed up for this one in the fu fu shopping area of Calabasas– along with the mums that I marvel at having pristine clothes without one spit up on their silk blouses or any sticky substance in their wonderfully groomed hair. Arriving late, I grabbed Jamie form the seat, gave a quick survey for a toy, saw the nesting doll and put it in my sweatshirt pouch. Moms often bring along something to amuse their little ones while waiting.
There is generally chit chat for five minutes before the class and I was intrigued by the conversations. I sat there sporting my Topanga Homegrown sweatshirt , proud that there was yet no hint of orange juice stains, finger marks, or drool on it–but the day was young. It was my second class and there was the still the uneasiness of the first day at school– people getting to know each other etc. Jamie, being an outgoing child, approached a little girl his age. She had a doll that he was extremely interested in. We were all sitting in a circle with the kids in front of us. I pulled out the Russian doll as a ‘let’s share’ option. This intrigued the kids. AHA! an ice breaker. Yes! All attention was suddenly on the Russian doll. I explained that there was a doll in a doll in a doll, ‘come and look.’ I then proceeded to twist apart the two halves which were not easy to open. I struggled until finally it popped open with a start and from inside the doll, four marijuana joints fell to the floor in the middle of the circle. I looked down in amazement then up at the crowd searching for words– any words. With a beaming red face I blurted ‘Its not MINE!!! no, honest its not MINE!!! I looked down at my Topanga Homegrown shirt and then at the Calabasas mums and thought ‘now is a good time to…. leave! ‘
I have not been back. The joke is, I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life. But I thought the explanation was just a bit too complicated. Hopefully, they read the Messenger in Calabasas!
Tails of Topanga #4, Topanga Messenger, October 2, 2004
It has been over a month since Topanga Animal Rescue began working on the ‘Lower Topanga Cats’ project. We have trapped twenty cats, had them spayed, neutered and given medical attention. But the process continues. Many cats still run the coyote corridor between the burned out house and the motel. Our method is to set ‘hava heart’ traps baited with canned food. If no cats are found during the day, the procedure is to spring and then reset the trap in the morning. This prevents a cat from spending a terrifying night with coyotes sniffing around the cage. It has been working well.
It was dusk when I arrived for the last trap check of the day. I opened the broken down gate to the yard of an abandoned house. As I squeezed through and under the thick overgrowth of ivy, I spotted the cage on the ground. From a distance of some six feet, I could see a dainty little SKUNK inside! I was on the phone and about to ask what the safe distance might be when it performed two cute little jumps with its front feet–like a kitten pouncing on a piece of fluff. BAM !! I felt like I had been hit in the face with a shovel! Keep in mind this all happened in seconds. Let me add that the nauseating smell that hit me did not smell anything like that strong waft of skunk we have all smelled at one time or another. It was concentrated by a thousand fold! Even though I was wearing glasses my eyes were streaming, my throat burned. My tongue and lymph nodes in my neck swelled to the size of golf balls.
I bid a hasty retreat to the other side of the fence and stripped to my underwear. Even my favorite new clogs had bit the dust! I fumbled in the brush for my cell phone which was still connected to two volunteers on the other end. They had heard the live action play by play with the screams, cursing, and calls to the higher being. I danced, hopping from one leg to another, walking and jumping up the dirt path to escape the odor now permeating the atmosphere like a sinister fog. I rounded a corner of bushes and up the trail, towards the back of the Reel Inn where sounds of periodic laughter burst from the outdoor patio. There was another burst of laughter. I looked up at the restaurant and back down the trail. Public humiliation was the lesser of the two evils so I stayed put. My husband arrived with tomato juice from the Topanga Market , five gallons of water and some towels. I was doused in tomato juice from head to pinkie toes and stood there like Sissy Spacek in the scene from Carrie. But I had forgotten to tell him I needed clothes too! From his car he mustered up some baby blankets, two large plastic bags, an old jacket and some dog towels.
So, while having no friends for two weeks, many tomato juice baths, carbolic soap washes, being doused in vinegar and smelling like an English fish and chip supper, Topanga Animal Rescue continues cat trapping. Oh, and yes, my husband and Janey Shuman braved the gauntlet of raised skunk tails and got the baby skunk out of the trap safely.
Tails of Topanga #3, Topanga Messenger, November 9, 2003
Early one morning I received a call from a lady with a beautiful southern drawl. She said she had two little chicks she had found in the garden and could I come and look after them. I informed her of the protocol for dealing with baby birds and said if they were still chirping by the cold of the evening I would come up. I did get the call and the chicks I found were tiny and completely unfeathered lesser gold finches. It was evident that no mother was returning.
Alice Cassidy was a spry, weathered ninety-six year old. She was tending the tall waving husks of corn out in her garden when I arrived. The garden was a blaze of beautiful vegetables that she tenderly cared for daily, rising at 5.00 a.m. Inside her house I found her well-loved parakeet., Squeegee, a bird that her niece Robin had found on Topanga Canyon Blvd. His nails were badly needing a trim so I offered. After that, I was accepted as a fellow animal lover and deemed to be okay.
Alice was born in Lexington, Kentucky on a tobacco farm. As a child she rode eight miles each way to school on a pony. She was around animals all her life and lived in the Post Office tract for some forty five years. I did not realize how unusual it was to be allowed to share the stories of her life as Alice was known to be a very private person.
She brought me the baby birds cupped a satin handkerchief in her strong leather hands. I promptly put them in a box and promised to keep her posted. Alice called me daily for updates. Over the weeks, they were fed and cared for, taught how to spread their wings and given a bathroom as a nursery/aviary. I visited Alice’s neighborhood for the seeds they would need to survive. If all went well, the ideal plan would be to release them exactly where she had found them.
The big day arrived. The pair were flitting around the bathroom, ready to go. One was very plump and the other had thinned down from all his practice flying (We had not named them– a necessary caution in rehab circles!!) So, our little ‘Laurel and Hardy’ were off to the wild blue yonder with a little help from us and ,of course, Alice. We gathered at the stables near her home where Alice had found them. She reached into the box with those amazing hands and they hopped right up and stayed there!! She was thrilled to see them, grown and feathered with their distinctive yellow chests. She looked up at me and I could see the little girl’s face in her smile, the girl that rode her pony eight miles to school and back again. It was a touching moment.
Eventually, ‘Laurel’ flew confidently into the trees, but Hardy wasn’t going anywhere so fast. No sir! He knew where the good free pickins were!! Laurel’s tweets from the tree rang like a “come on come on.” But Hardy wasn’t going. We then watched in wonder as “Laurel” flew back down from the tree, chirped to ‘Hardy”, who was still in Alice’s hand, and suddenly they took off, into the trees together. A heartwarming success!
It was with great sadness that I heard of Alice’s passing. Even now, when I visit her neighbors’ home, I take a walk by her old house and look down to the garden. It’s hard not to picture. Alice amidst the high corn, clad in her jeans and checked shirt, looking up from her hoe, putting her hand on her hip to offer support to her bent back for a moment, looking at me and waving hello.
Tails of Topanga #2, Topanga Messenger, May 13, 2003
On April 18th, Tatsoi the white lab, a beloved friend of the community and a fixture at the community house, was put peacefully to sleep after a brave battle with cancer. The cancer was discovered when Tatsoi was rushed to the emergency hospital after eating chicken bones at the Baseball Awards picnic.
Jimmy Rosenberg, Tatsoi’s Dad, told us that Tatsoi was ten years old. “He had started losing his hearing. He was already slowing up, we thought arthritis. At the Baseball Awards day, he ate a bunch of chicken and was acting real strange so I took him to emergency. The x rays found the chicken bones, which they said was typical for his breed – getting into trash – but they also found the cancer. During the operation, they cut out part of his liver and he never really recovered from that. He did the best he could. He’s buried on the property. We made him a nice little tomb stone.”
Tatsoi was a classic Topanga character – lovable, mischievous and full of that Topanga community spirit. Even his name had a wonderful story to it. “We had an organic lettuce farm at the house and Tatsoi is one of the lettuces we grew. He used to seek that one out and eat it all the time so his name had to be Tatsoi.”
Tatsoi was a regular fixture at the Community Center. “We live next to the Community Center. He was such a people dog and he’d go over there because he loved people so much…nobody knew me, everybody know Tatsoi. He was the most famous dog in Topanga.” Joe Pileggi, caretaker of the Community House, spent some special time with Tatsoi. “I knew him six years. He would walk into my living room and lay down like he was home. After events he would be the last one to leave. He’d be in my living room laying down like he was home. He’d be there with me at the end of weddings at two in the morning, just me and him at the end of the party cleaning it up.”
Many of us remember his performances in the Nutcracker. Sherry Jason, director of the Topanga Ballet recalled that “He was on for three performances and was incredible, didn’t miss a cue.” He was apparently quite a dedicated thespian. “He seemed to be so interested…. we could see how he could be a member of the cast. Jimmy used to stay in front of the stage on the ground with doggy treats and then Chuck Macintosh (Uncle Drosmeyer) had more treats. We’d lead Tatsoi onto the stage and Chuck would give him treats and Jimmy would give treats to get him off the stage. He was under a big satin cape and he was super… He seemed to know that he had a really important part in our ballet. He seemed to learn it, get better with each rehearsal. He was on for three performances and was incredible, didn’t miss a cue.”
Tatsoi was a regular at Topanga Days, often around the stage, always mingling with the crowd, always with a nose for the goodies. He was an expert egg thief at Easter, helping himself to an early brunch. Jimmy Rosenberg felt that Tatsoi “had a reputation. He used to steal the Easter Eggs. Tatsoi got really heavy but I hardly ever fed him. It was a challenge to keep his weight down. We would have to be aware of key events and keep him in. He had access to the CH. It was his back yard.”
But he was a sweet, calm and lovable thief, always gentle around the play area with the children and always wagging his tail. (Tatsoi was never the best reader and couldn’t read the NO DOGS ALLOWED sign). He is survived by Jimmy and Veronique and their two children and is sorely missed by all of us.
Tails of Topanga #1, Topanga Messenger, March 6, 2003
What is it to be a part of Topanga Animal Rescue? Is it the two a.m. call from a man in tears whose favorite duck seems not to be herself. Is it sleepily forcing your leg into your pants for wet bird collecting and attempting to calm the hyperventilating man on the other end of the phone. Asking for the nearest cross street and he gives the full address–blah blah Nevada. Okay, got it. Then slowly it sinks in ….Nevada? you exclaim, oh sorry we only do Topanga. And, Yes, yes, Topanga Animal Rescue is listed on the internet…. Imagine, brrrrinnng, brrring–‘Should I divorce my husband who does not like my parrot.’ You explain that relationship counseling is out of your area of expertise.
Topanga Animal Rescue is really about the busy procession of wounded possums, orphaned birds, lost kitties, baby squirrels, hurt dogs that we help each year. It has reached the stage where my ever patient composer husband, Ken Mazur, has actually become adept at giving fluids, holding bleeding birds, stretching fractious cats and netting viscous dogs. And where would I be without the constant support of my wonderful friend Dr. Janet Meyerhoff who I have dragged to various unforgiving areas of the canyon on her own time to treat or humanely euthanise those beyond help. And of course, the latest rescue recruit, our one and a half year old, James, who could say kitty, bird and make hoofed creature sounds before he could say Mama!
What is it to be a part of Topanga Animal Rescue? Here is the first of our ‘Tails of Topanga’.
Whose Cat Is This Anyway?
I received a call from a woman up Entrada who informed me that a cat had been stuck up a cypress tree for five days. It seems that Blackie, as she had called it, was up the tree the day she left on vacation. She assumed that as usual he would come down, but on her return Blackie was still in the tree top meowing weakly. It had been over 100ºF for days, so by the time I arrived my concern was that he would be so dehydrated that he might not make it. Animal control was called to loop the Cyprus, pull it over and bag the cat. Sounds easy in principle but it didn’t work. Next the local Fire Dept. was called but they did not have a ladder. A fire crew from the Valley did come but their ladder could not reach either.
As I drove up on the seventh day disheartened, I noticed a Cal trans crew. Eureka!! Perhaps they would rescue Blackie with their cherry picker. But their truck could not make it up the narrow driveway to the tree and of course there was some legal issue they were grumbling about. But I had also noticed a Caltrans worker high up a pole with cleats. Aha! Perhaps he would like to make a quick forty dollars on his lunch break? At high noon, with capture bag slung on his back, he promptly ascended the swinging cypress tree to a height of fifty feet. But Blackie panicked and went up another five feet to the very pointed top of the swaying tree. It seemed impossible, but our Caltrans hero climbed after him with the tree swinging six feet each way and bagged Blackie. He repelled down and in less than ten seconds they were both safe on the ground. After a quick thanks, I brought Blackie to the nearest house and administered fluids. Lighter by a few lives but in remarkably good shape,
he drank freely from a small bowl and devoured two tins of cat food.
Now to find his owner. A sign had been put up on Entrada but we had no bites, so to speak. He was relaxing in the recuperation shed when I received a call from a woman saying he was her cat and his name was Shadow. It was not unusual for ‘Shadow ‘ to go on jaunts and stay out for days so she had not been concerned. They were promptly reunited and on their way.
I then received another call from a woman claiming he was her cat and his name was Midnight. He was always away on jaunts for days and she had also not been concerned. Then a third call came in from a woman claiming that he was her Sooty and she was accustomed to him wondering off for days. Hmmm?
Well, it turns out that for three years Blackie, alias Shadow, alias Midnight, alias Sooty has lived at all three houses sleeping with each lady on her bed for a few days at a time and moving on. “And this isn’t even Utah,” I thought!
Thankfully, Blackie, Shadow, Midnight, Sooty, perhaps more appropriately named Don Juan, is on the move once again, another amazing Tail of Topanga.
Stay tuned for the next episode.