The Best of CDR: A Tribute to Angela Oakley

Angela and a CDR Hound Puppy

by Meredith Raimondi (CDR Director)

“No group has more fun for a great cause.” That was what Angela Oakley always said about City Dogs Rescue. The truth is that no one has more fun because we had Angela and she lit a spark in everyone she crossed paths with in her life.

We sadly learned that Angela (age 44) passed away last night after a courageous fight against breast cancer.

It is impossible to summarize the impact of Angela Oakley on City Dogs Rescue. To begin, it’s important to know that Angela was there no matter what. Angela was there for the dogs and the people.

Pepper – on one of Angela’s first walks

Angela started as a volunteer dog walker on March 24, 2012 after she saw a Facebook post from her friend Matt Tosiello. She was the first person to ever sign up for CDR’s just-launched dog walking program and after her first walk, she signed up to help every free Saturday she had available through the remainder of the summer. If it was a Saturday morning in Dupont, you could expect to spot Angela in her Blue NC Tarheel T-shirt walking a City Dog.

Once diagnosed with cancer just a year ago, Angela never stopped volunteering for CDR. From the start, she was always one of the first to raise her hand to help (especially for the less glamorous sides of dog rescue like looking for a lost dog at 11:00 PM on a weekday or picking up a dog in the middle of Maryland at 1:00 AM). I can’t begin to think of how many times Angela opened her car door to a dog in need of a ride and said, “Hop in!” In her first summer as a volunteer, Angela was joined by CDR co-founders Dave and Darren on a transport with dogs from Bladen County, NC. It was the first of countless road trips near or far that Angela made for rescue dogs. 

Angela attended every event she could and always encouraged everyone she knew to join. Many said that they would be more inclined to go to an event knowing Angela would be there comforted in knowing that they had a friend there.
Angela often had a puppy on her lap

Everyone knew Angela in the City Dogs Rescue family. Countless volunteers  and adopters remember her as the first smiling face that welcomed them to our community. Angela served tirelessly in her role as Adoption Events Coordinator oftentimes transporting dogs without fosters who needed exposure most and braving hot summer days or freezing cold weather. Amanda Schwartz, a fellow CDR volunteer, said that everyone saw Angela as a friend because “Angela is the best of CDR”. This could not be more true. No person or dog ever felt unwanted in Angela’s presence.

Oakley was one of at least 3 dogs named after Angela (she holds the record for namesakes).

Angela was one of CDR’s biggest cheerleaders. She probably bought more shirts from CDRKid Ethan Katz’s fundraiser than anyone else so that she could share her love of dog rescue with her friends and family. 

Here are some Angela-isms from her Facebook page:

On City Dogs Rescue:

  • “I know, I KNOW I post a lot about City Dogs Rescue, the dog rescue I volunteer with. I try not to be a bore but it’s fun, I have met a lot of great friends and for me, Facebook is a place for happy things. Here’s why I share so much about it. Saturday, we had a reunion with 80 or so dogs that have been adopted in the past 2 years. (The other 300+ had other plans.) All of these dogs were in overcrowded shelters. Some were hours away from not making it out, if you know what I mean. Rescuing a dog is a long, difficult process but here’s how it ends. These are now great, much loved, funny pets.”

On Transformation:

  • “The dog rescue I volunteer with made this video. I can’t believe the change in this one little dog who now has a wonderful, happy life. If you can, fostering is a great way to help out. Donations to City Dogs Rescue or groups in your area really help, too. I feel like this group helps connect my two homes. We work in DC but bring up lots of dogs from North Carolina.”
  • “I started volunteering a little over a year ago when I realized I did precious little for anyone other than myself. Since then, I’ve made tons of new friends, marched in a Pride parade followed by a Nellie’s float (bucket list material) and seen so many once unwanted dogs go to loving homes. Today, the rescue adopted out its 300th dog. Gabe is older, had horrible sores on his feet (now healed) and was skin and bones. He came from a shelter in Granville County, NC, the same area where my mother is from. Now he has a family. “

Here are some of the countless dogs that Angela walked or drove for CDR:

Angela always had the best descriptions of the dogs she met and made light of their goofier qualities as well:

  • “I picked up Lady Mary for the adoption event today. She was a great companion! She rode beautifully in the car (right, Ginya?) and was happy to meet everyone. She is strong and energetic but full of happy energy. She does like to chew on her leash so I had to watch that. Also, she likes doughnuts and will stop at nothing to dig them out of a bag. That was my fault. Oops. Anyone interested in fostering her? Lady Mary is a sweet, smart girl.”
  • “My friend Padmini put together a great video of a City Dogs Rescue dog who needs a foster and a permanent home. Rookie is sweet and energetic. He loves belly rubs, which he was begging for in this video. You can click the link: Rookie is safe and loved until he finds his people and Sarah MacLachlan makes no appearances. (Seriously, we would love to find him a foster. So if you know anyone interested…)”

Angela was always rooting for the underdogs. There are always dogs who linger a little while longer on the adoption page. Angela was always eager to bring them to events and made sure to show them off. Her photos and updates resonated with people and it definitely led to these dogs finding their foster or forever homes.

When asked about her favorite dog, Angela said every time she met a dog she would think,  “This is my favorite dog, but they’re all my favorite.” Angela never picked favorites among people or animals, but it’s no secret that to all of us at CDR, Angela was everyone’s favorite.

To all of us at CDR, Angela was everyone’s favorite.

Angela is survived by her mom Joyce and her brother Lee. She will be forever missed by everyone lucky enough to know her. CDR will be #TeamAngelaForever.