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Tony La Russa’s family cuts ties with Animal Rescue Foundation

Tony La Russa and his family have officially ended ties with the Animal Rescue Foundation. | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Tony La Russa and his family have cut ties with the Walnut Creek-based Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), which they founded in 1991.

The family had resigned from the ARF board in 2021, but had remained loosely affiliated with the foundation until a falling-out over the adoption of a dog named Lovebug.

Per a press release from Singer Associates, the final straw came with Lovebug’s mishandled adoption in February. Despite instructions that Lovebug needed a harness, she was apparently sent to her elderly adopters without one and quickly escaped.

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The family learned of the foundation’s minimal efforts to rescue Lovebug despite numerous sightings by neighbors; a dedicated group of volunteers (including members of the La Russa family) set a trap to rescue the dog and took her to safety after less than two hours. The next day, the La Russa family personally refunded Lovebug’s adoption fee, alleviating any responsibility from ARF and worked with her adopters to transfer ownership, the release states.

Tony La Russa poses with Dave Stewart during Stewart's number retirement ceremony at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 2022. | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In the aftermath, one of the volunteers who assisted in Lovebug’s rescue was told her services were no longer needed. The volunteer in question, according to the press release, had devoted 10-15 hours a week to the organization over 20 years and had fostered over 570 animals.

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The family had intended to make the separation from the organization a quiet one, but came out publicly after a March 6 post from ARF's website stated, "After more than three decades of successful partnership, the Animal Rescue Foundation announced today that the organization and Tony La Russa have agreed to part ways."

ARF was founded after an event on May 7, 1990, when La Russa, then-manager of the defending World Champion Oakland A’s, rescued a stray cat that had ran on the field during a game against the New York Yankees. La Russa and his wife, Elaine, couldn’t find a shelter for their cat, and were inspired to open their own to save the cat from euthanasia.

“The Animal Rescue Foundation takes great pride in the outstanding efforts of our dedicated staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly every day to support our mission,” ARF said in a statement. “After careful consideration, the board of directors voted on March 1, to officially separate from the La Russa family. We extend our gratitude to Tony and his family for their passion for animals and support of our organization over the years.”

La Russa retired from baseball in 2022 after spending two seasons as the manager of the Chicago White Sox. Heart problems had caused him to miss much of the final two months of the 2022 season. He is a three-time World Series champion manager, winning the 1989 title with the A’s and both the 2006 and 2011 championships with the St. Louis Cardinals.