Chad Atkins, the cofounder of Paw Works -- one of L.A.'s leading animal rescue organizations -- has died.
The organization announced the shocking news Sunday about its leader, calling him "a truly incredible person who devoted his entire existence to saving animals."
Paw Works says Chad "passed unexpectedly from heart failure" while at home. Further proving his dedication to animals, he had recently planned to open a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.
Paw Works is continuing to honor Chad by opening up the clinic as he wished ... and it's asking for donations to help continue his life's work. All the folks who worked with Chad say they can hear him saying, “It’s time, let’s get back to our mission.”
In the span of Chad's animal rescue career, the org says "he managed to save many humans with his compassion, sassy wit, smile and unconditional devotion."
TMZ has had the honor of working closely with Chad and Paw Works each year leading up to the Puppy Bowl to help promote animal adoption.
Chad is survived by his son, Sebastian, and his husband, Bryan Diaz. He was 44.