by Michelle Tremblay | photo by Dawn at Nicoli Productions

Kira’s Legacy

volunteer_rhodes2For Susan Rhodes, family is everything – including all the dogs that come her way. “I consider each and every one of them to be a part of my family,” shared Susan. There was one dog in particular that happened to change Susan’s life forever – a pit bull-mastiff mix named Kira. “When I was living in Mexico in 2012 I came across a very sick, emaciated, and wounded dog. It was quite a shocking sight,” recalled Susan. “She was covered in ticks and fleas and was on the verge of collapsing from dehydration, malnourishment, and deep wounds.”

Susan felt compelled to help Kira. “I felt a very strong connection to her for some reason,” she remembered. “It truly was love at first sight for me.” After ignoring a veterinarian’s suggestion to put Kira to sleep, Susan dedicated four long months to rehabilitating the dog. “The beauty about this little angel was that in nurturing her back to health, I too was rehabilitated,” she shared. “She brought me back to life in a time when I was lost and lonely.”

Name: Susan Rhodes
Community: Vista
Volunteer Affiliation: KIRA: K9 International Rescue Association
Family: Two parents, one sister, one boyfriend and three permanent KIRA residents
Interests: Dogs


Needless to say, Kira became Susan’s best friend. So when Kira passed away in March 2014, Susan was devastated. “I made a promise to her that I would continue to do this work of rescuing other dogs that had been abused like she had,” stated Susan. “I woke up the morning after she passed and this name just flowed out of me – K9 International Rescue Association (KIRA).”

Today, Susan’s nonprofit KIRA has a mission to rescue abused and neglected dogs, and to rehabilitate them to do the same for a person in need of love. “Our goal is to give these dogs a second chance at life,” explained Susan. “This mutual interchange of unconditional love makes us better people and when we live in that light, I believe we give off positive energy to others around us.”

In early August, KIRA had its first Annual Surf N’ Paws Fundraiser. “It was a huge success and a whole lot of fun!” exclaimed Susan. While the fundraiser was a triumph, Susan emphasized the need for more volunteers, fosters, and donations. “If I could grant KIRA one wish it would be to have a fully equipped facility with a medical staff, as well as professionals to train and certify the rescues to be service animals,” she shared. “We believe that by working together we can have the biggest impact for those that have been forgotten and neglected.”


Group: K9 International Rescue Association (KIRA)
Mission: Our mission is to rescue K9 victims of abuse and neglect, and rehabilitate them to do the same for a person in need of love. Our goal is to give these dogs a second chance at life and create a world where every life matters.
Phone: 760-815-9978