Best Friends Blog

Courage to spare

Mark and Karn at Best Friends Animal SanctuaryLong 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.

Mark and Karn todayTragically, 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.

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Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Cherie Hatlem

    I hope your birthday was wonderful, as it should be! Thank you so much for all you do and being such a strong advocate for the well being of community cats!

  • Stop the killing NOW!

    Happy Birthday. Thank you for all you do for the cats.

  • Elizabeth Oreck

    Happy belated birthday, Mark. It has been such a pleasure working with you and Karn. You are both amazing advocates and truly inspiring heroes for our feline friends. Thank you for all you do.

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  • Beth Patterson

    Hi Mark, our names are Amanda and Sasha, we are felines. Our person is Beth. We would like to send you a special Happy Birthday, so we are sending slow eye blinks and leg rubs. Thank you for helping so many of our furry relatives have better lives.
    Light and Bright Blessings Mark
    Amanda and Sasha

  • Suzanne Scala

    Happy Birthday. For all the wonderful things you’ve done. Thank you. You are an inspiration.

  • Janice Moore

    Happy Birthday Mark! What legacy you are creating!!..congrats on your special day and God bless your special spirit!

  • Julie

    Happy birthday to someone who is a real hero in my book. I hope your birthday is as special as you are…..

  • Sharon Mills

    Happy birthday, Mark. We owe you on two fronts: for your sacrifices in the military, and for what you and your wife are doing for community cats.
    Thanks so much; enjoy your day!

  • Peggy Robey

    Happy Birthday Mark..Thank you for caring so very much for the community cats that often are forgotten.You’re a true hero with a big heart.I wish you well.

  • Norma Stevlingson

    Happy Birthday wishes to someone who was a hero for the nation in VietNam and is now for cats in LA. Thank you for all your service!

  • Laurie McRae

    Happy Birthday, dear Mark! I have a feeling your birthday wish has something to do with saving/bettering the lives of cats. I hope ALL of your birthday wishes come true! Thank you for ALL you do for cats here in L.A./CA!

  • Candi Warrington

    Happy birthday! Thanks for being an inspiration in so many ways to all of us.

  • Joanna wood

    The very best of birthday wishes to a man who is an example for us all! A true hero, smart and compassionate too, what a wonderful combination! Thank you Mark for being you!

  • Catherine Connors-Nelson

    Happy Birthday, Mark! Thank you so much for all you have done for animals. May God continue to bless you in your life as you live out a vocation that is full of love and compassion for the little ones that God loves so deeply. I have prayed for your and Karn in your life together and that God will continue to bless you, support you, and love the world through you. Happy Birthday!

  • Christine Barry

    Happy Birthday, Mark and may God continue to bless you on your mission to “save them all”! Continue your good work….

  • Mary Beth Freiberger Woerner

    Happy Happy birthday Mark from South Jersey! May u always be blessed in your life and thank you for your service and what you do for our innocent creatures, May the angels always walk with you.

  • Valerie Orner

    Dear Mark, I hope your birthday is wonderful. You are a hero in every respect and your birth/life has helped so many animals; you are truly a gift to this planet
    . May God bless you always. With gratitude from those who are not fortunate enough to meet you.

  • Angry Woman

    Happy birthday to a hero. Thank you for your dedication to community cats and to the NKLA movement. You are truly an inspiration.

  • Becky

    Thank you for loving cats. You truly are a “best friend” to the furry creatures we love so much!

  • michellenevada

    Let me join the thousands of cats and their people who you’ve touched through the years and wish you a happy birthday!

  • Francis Battista

    Proud to know you Mark. Thanks for your friendship.

  • Kim

    Happy Birthday Mark! Thank you for everything you’ve done for community cats and everything you continue to do for our animal welfare movement!

  • Tina Clark

    Hero, indeed! Best wishes for a wonderful birthday, Mark!

  • Elizabeth Jensen

    Happiest of Birthdays to a true hero!