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Patricia Guiver, 76; Pet Detective Author, Animal Welfare Activist

Times Staff Writer

Patricia Guiver, a longtime Orange County animal welfare advocate who turned her love of animals into a series of mysteries featuring a tea-sipping pet detective, has died. She was 76.

Guiver died Tuesday of complications from heart surgery at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, said Chris Guiver, her son and sole survivor. She was divorced.

Guiver was the founder of the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and co-founder of the Animal Assistance League of Orange County. She also served on the Orange County Animal Shelter Advisory Board and was involved with numerous other animal welfare groups.

“She made a huge impact on animal welfare in Orange County,” said Elaine Lintner, who worked with Guiver on the nonprofit Orange County SPCA. “She truly was concerned about the welfare of the animals, and that’s what drove her to continue on for many years.”

Born Feb. 25, 1930, in Surrey, England, Guiver got her start as a writer working on London’s Fleet Street and later served as an American correspondent for British women’s magazines. She drew on her experience working in animal welfare in creating Delilah Doolittle, pet detective.

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Doolittle, a fiftysomething British widow who lives in a Southern California beach town called Surf City and makes her living tracking down errant pets, made her debut in 1997 in “Delilah Doolittle and the Purloined Pooch” (Berkley Publishing Group).

Doolittle’s faithful canine companion, Watson, was inspired by Guiver’s deceased Doberman pinscher, Brandy. Surf City was loosely based on Huntington Beach, where Guiver had lived since 1961.

Guiver, who described her writing style as “kind of Miss Marple meets Surf City,” wrote six books in the series. The most recent was “The Beastly Bloodline” (2003).

“They were a very charming, wry series, giving a Britisher’s view of Orange County,” said Patricia McFall, an Orange County mystery writer and teacher who met Guiver in a writing class McFall taught in 1993.

“Her novels reflected her concerns,” McFall said. “She always got in information about animal welfare in her novels. That was part of the reason she wrote them.”

Guiver most recently wrote a pet column for several small newspapers. She also wrote and self-published “Animal Connections: The Complete Directory of Pet and Wildlife Resources.”

Instead of flowers, Guiver’s son suggested that contributions be made to the Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org, or the Surfrider Foundation, www.surfrider.org.

A memorial service is pending.


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