PHOENIX — The animal rescue community in the Phoenix area is mourning the loss of one of its champions.
Adrienna Ayala spent years advocating and caring for animals who were in need of a little extra care, love, and support. Friends have described her as passionate, dedicated, relentless, and compassionate.
On Saturday, June 12, Ayala was involved in a rollover crash on the Loop 101 near Olive Road. Ayala died.
Friends said Ayala was visiting with a friend to exchange some equipment related to their rescue work.
"She wasn't only amazing in the rescue world, she was a really selfless person," said Traci Cook, a volunteer with Humane Animal Rescue & Trapping Team, or HARTT, and believes she was the last person to hug Ayala goodbye.
Friends said Ayala helped save hundreds of dogs throughout her years of advocacy and rescue work. She was someone who did not give up, spoke her mind, and was also respectful towards others.
"She was a force to be reckoned with," said Anita Osa, the founder of Sunshine Dog Rescue, and someone who often worked with Ayala.
Friends said she was the type of person to drop everything and rush to help when needed, no matter what time it was.
From dogs that were abandoned, strays, lost, malnourished, or covered in ticks, Ayala dedicated her life to reuniting them with their owners or helping them heal and finding them loving homes.
Few details about the crash have been released. It remains under investigation.
However, as soon as word spread about the crash, friends rushed into action mobilizing a team to care for the 23 dogs that were currently under Ayala's care. All were transferred to other rescues or foster homes.
Cook said it was a tough day with many fighting through their grief to get the job done.
"It is amazing. It really is. People I've never met showed up and helped. And, you know we all just got it done. It was a really rough day for sure," she said.
Friends have created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to support Ayala's husband, who suffered medical complications after learning of his wife's crash.
A friend sent ABC15 a screenshot of a post on Ayala's Facebook page six days before the crash.
"Dear Jesus, I ask that you please take care of me so that I can take care of them," the post read, according to the screenshot. It also included a picture of the dogs that were under her care.
Friends called it a testament to a life dedicated to helping those who could not speak for themselves.