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Charlie brings blessing of four-legged friends to needy humans

Think “Charlie’s Angels” and the brain automatically goes to three sexy, smart, sassy women reporting to the voice of Charlie. But this Charlie is no anonymous voice. This Charlie is a Labrador mix — smart and sassy at least. His angels are canines and felines.

This Charlie is the inspiration for what is believed to be the most successful off-site animal adoption effort in The Animal Foundation’s history. A total of 85 dogs and cats found homes on Dec. 11, mainly because of Charlie.

Charlie belongs to Kim and Scott Sibella, who adopted him from The Animal Foundation’s “Best in Show” fundraiser in 2007 at 8 months old. “Out of 60 dogs, he was the only dog sitting there not barking,” Kim remembered.

“He has changed our lives in ways we never would have expected,” said Scott, president and chief operating officer of The Mirage.

Charlie inspired Kim to become a board member of The Animal Foundation. Three years ago, the couple began sponsoring pet adoption fairs for MGM Mirage employees, encouraging them to save animals that might otherwise be euthanized. A total of 129 dogs and cats have been adopted because of the Sibellas.

“Charlie gets all the credit,” Kim confirmed.

The Animal Foundation takes in 50,000 animals a year from Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County. (Henderson has its own shelter.) Half of these animals end up being killed. Adoptable animals can be seen at the foundation’s Web site at www.animalfoundation.com.

The Sibellas have more success bringing animals to The Mirage instead of sending employees to the foundation at 655 N. Mohave Road, which they did in 2008. This year, “Charlie’s Angels Pet Adoption Fair” returned to The Mirage, which normally is more welcoming to whales than dogs and cats.

Scott said he wanted to make it easy for his employees to experience the happiness he and his wife enjoy with Charlie. The couple pick up all or part of the adoption costs. All of the animals have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped for identification, all ready to love and be loved.

The Animal Foundation Executive Director Christine Robinson said, “To the best of my knowledge, 85 is the most adoptions we’ve had at an off-site adoption fair. … I’m not one to throw lots of kudos around, but they deserve kudos,” she said of the Sibellas.

Robinson deserves some kudos herself. She became the executive director in April 2007 at a time when the foundation was operating in the red and was under fire for unhealthful conditions because of overcrowding and disease. She renegotiated contracts with Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and the county, and now the operation is in the black. Sixty percent of the $6.2 million operation budget comes from the government and 40 percent from private donations from animal lovers like the Sibellas, who have cats, dogs, birds, goats and horses.

For a look at one of the animals who found a home, check out my blog at www.lvrj.com/blogs/morrison/ to see Bo, an American bulldog adopted by Doug Owens, a Mirage security officer.

The photo says it all. A guy and his dog.

On Christmas Eve, 85 of Charlie’s angels have homes and won’t be put to death. Maybe they’re climbing a Christmas tree or breaking ornaments or ripping ribbons off wrapped packages. Yet they’re bringing laughter and joy.

As more people with financial problems turn in pets to the foundation or any of the other worthy adoption and rescue groups, one thing that would make their Christmas merrier would be knowing their pets found a safe haven.

Charlie should be proud.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.

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