Courage to spare

Long before Mark Dodge was a hero to the cats of Los Angeles, he was a hero to the men he served with in Vietnam, for which was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart for his valor in combat.

Mark, along with his wife Karn, are known in animal welfare circles as the founders of FixNation, the first and maybe the only fixed spay/neuter clinic dedicated exclusively to community cats. Before launching FixNation in Los Angeles in 2007, the couple was widely known in Southern California as organizers of Best Friends Catnippers, an all-volunteer community cat spay/neuter clinic, which they initiated in 1999 to support local trap/neuter/return on a grassroots level across greater Los Angeles. The two undertakings have been responsible for more than 115,000 surgeries of cats in the L.A. area. FixNation is a founding member of the NKLA Coalition and a member of the NKLA initiative’s steering committee.

Mark's day job was corporate law and he has been quite a high flyer over the years, overseeing some of the largest mergers. With that resume, Mark was a go-to guy for many in the animal community, pulling together their nonprofit organizations, and he was a regular at the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, where he advocated for community cats.

Tragically, Mark was struck down in 2011 by ALS, a cruel and unforgiving disease — possibly a consequence of exposure in Vietnam to the infamous defoliant, Agent Orange. Like Professor Stephen Hawking, he is only able to communicate via a vision-operated, computer-generated voice but, like Hawking, Mark continues to pursue his passion. He is active in guiding FixNation and continues his role as a member of the NKLA steering committee. His courage is an inspiration to everyone who meets him. Being an unassuming, everyday hero seems to be the theme of Mark's life.

Today is Mark's birthday and I hope you will join me in wishing him well, and please consider writing a birthday greeting in the comments section below. We know your well wishes would mean the world to Mark.

With the commitment and courage of people like Mark Dodge, there is no doubt that, together, we can Save Them All.

Gregory Castle