Sunday, November 29, 2015

Diane DiGiacomo, star of Animal Planet's "Animal Precinct", dies at 52 from 9/11 related exposure

NEW YORK -- The woman diagnosed with cancer from toxic fumes she inhaled rescuing cats and dogs from homes in the shadow of Ground Zero has died — but her mission to help ailing 9/11 rescuers lives on, relatives said.

Diane DiGiacomo, 52, died with her sister Donna, brother Paul and son Stephan by her side Friday at her New Jersey home.

The single mother had dedicated the last moments of her life to pushing Congress to renew the Zadroga Act, which compensates families of ailing 9/11 first-responders.

I feel she had a purpose. She had to get the message out before she left her loved ones,” said her brother Paul, vice president of the NYPD Detectives Endowment Association.

Days before her death, a state judge shockingly denied DiGiacomo’s workers compensation claim for the breast cancer she sustained due to fume exposure.

See: "State judge denies workers' compensation claim brought by ASPCA animal rescuer dying from 9/11-related cancer"

In her role with the ASPCA, she worked in all five boroughs for almost two decades, investigating reports of animal abuse and cruelty, arresting suspected abusers and rescuing abused and sick animals.

She also spent weeks in the neighborhoods near Ground Zero after 9/11, rescuing animals trapped in apartments where their owners could not return for weeks.

Ms. DiGiacomo was often seen on the television program "Animal Precinct" on Animal Planet, which ran from June 2001 until February 2008, as she and her colleagues went about their work investigating animal cruelty, abuse, dog fighting and other crimes involving animals.

Diane, you saved so many animals and inspired so many people. RIP

"She was full of life, and very humble," said her brother, Paul. "She loved her job and she loved animals and never stopped marveling at their unconditional love. She also was brave, often going into dangerous situations, and always acted with professionalism. And she lived for her son," he said.

Surviving, along with her sister, Donna, and brother, Paul, are her son, Stephan, and her sister, Laura DiGiacomo.

The funeral will be Tuesday from the Hanley Funeral Home, with a Mass at 11:30 a.m. in Our Lady Queen of Peace R.C. Church, both in New Dorp. Burial will follow in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

(NY Daily News and SI Live - Nov 22, 2015)

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