WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) — Hall of Fame baseball manager Tony La Russa terminated his relationship with the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) after a mishap with the adoption of a dog, according to a press release sent out on Wednesday. La Russa created the foundation in 1991 and it bore his name until he decided to sever ties.

According to the press release, the incident that made La Russa want to cease his involvement happened Feb. 9 when a dog named Lovebug was adopted. The release, which was written by Singer Associates PR, alleges that behavioral notes stated the dog needed a harness, but Lovebug was sent to her adopters without one.

Lovebug escaped from her elderly adopters before they even got her into their home. Nearly two weeks after she escaped, the La Russas learned that ARF was ceasing attempts to rescue her, per the release.

Freeze warnings were issued that night, and members of the La Russa family and other volunteers set out to trap the dog. Hours later, Lovebug was trapped and returned to safety, the release said.

After that, another incident occurred that angered La Russa. The release states that a volunteer who helped rescue Lovebug was told she was no longer needed.

“Compassion and care for animals is our family’s passion,” Tony La Russa said. “But ARF’s current leadership, policies, and attitudes work against fulfilling its mission. We have concluded we must completely separate ourselves, our name and our reputation from ARF.”

Tony La Russa founded the foundation after a cat ran onto the Oakland Coliseum field during a May 7, 1990 game against the New York Yankees. After learning the cat would most likely be euthanized, he decided to start his own shelter and it opened the following February. La Russa’s A’s won the May 7 game 5-1 behind two home runs by Jose Canseco.

On Monday, ARF put out a statement on its website publicizing its split with La Russa. It did not list any reasons why the two were no longer affiliated.

“We take this path with gratitude for all the La Russa family has contributed to ARF’s advancement and extend our warmest wishes for success in their future endeavors. At the same time, we’re tremendously excited about ARF’s expansion and new directions,” said CEO Susan Lee Vick.

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That did not go over well with the La Russa family, which wanted to part ways privately. The press release said the statement implied that ARF decided to cut ties with the family.

“This statement is disingenuous and deceptive.  Behavior like this is among the many reasons we no longer want to be associated with ARF,” said Bianca La Russa, who is Tony’s daughter. “This was not mutual, nor was our action a severed ‘partnership’ as ARF claims. Our family founded this organization. ARF has been our hearts for over 30 years.” 

More than 30 years after the foundation was started, there are tensions between the foundation and the legendary A’s, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals manager. The La Russa family resigned from the foundation’s board in 2021 but agreed to remain loosely affiliated.

On Friday, La Russa’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to ARF. The lawyers demanded that ARF send back La Russa’s music and baseball memorabilia, which had been on display.

When reached for comment, ARF sent KRON4 the following statement:

The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) takes great pride in the outstanding efforts of our dedicated staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly every day to support our mission. After careful consideration, the board of directors voted on March 1, 2023, to officially separate from the La Russa family. We extend our gratitude to Tony and his family for their passion for animals and support of our organization over the years. We remain committed to serving our beloved community and look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in the lives of animals and animals and the people who love them.