More on Fake Rescues —let the kind hearted beware!

While I was out of the country for the past 2 weeks (more on that in future blogs),  several of my posts have gotten a tremendous number of hits.  Now, I am not ‘Style Rookie’, or  one of those blogs that has that many regular followers. At this point, I think there are only about 30 subscribers.  However, on the topics that strike a nerve, I know the links get forwarded frequently by how many titles get hits every day.

The subject of Wright-Way Animal Rescue struck a serious nerve among many people, because so many have adopted animals with serious health issues from them.  There are several  issues that concern me, and that should concern anyone concerned about animal welfare and solving not just the  pet over population problem, but the animal abuse problem in general.  I will attempt to tie this all in.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I do want to give you all something to think about.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a No-Kill animal shelter.  They pick & choose the pets they save—and even then, because they don’t educate themselves about animal husbandry or think they deserve a pass due to their ‘good intentions’, they  end up  euthanizing a  significant per centage of the  pets they pull from OPEN ADMISSIONS SHELTERS AND POUNDS. Who holds them accountable?  Good question!   Purrs From the Heart  was a cat shelter started by a cat loving couple (I believe the  husband was a fire fighter) in the western suburbs of Chicago within the past  two years. They requested donations-in-kind on Craigslist.  Since I do whatever I can to help shelters and rescues,  and I always have stuff  others can use, I gave them several hundred dollars worth of ‘stuff’.  I knew they were going to use some of the things in their shelter, and some they were going to try to resell to raise money.   They gave me a receipt for tax purposes. Since I am not really a cat fancier and have enough on my plate in general, I didn’t stay in touch with them.  Then,  about 8 months later, via the ChicagoNow/Raining Cats and Dogs blog, I learned they  were being audited as  they had taken over 90 cats from Chicago Animal Care & Control  (CACC) and could not account for any of them.    No records at all.  Who did they go to? Hoarders?  Single families?  Renters?  Did they get released in forest preserves?  How many died?  At this point, nobody knows.  It is only because they got their cats from a legitimate animal pound—Chicago Animal Care & Control—that any inquiry is being made at all.

In Chicago, there are so many  animal rescues.  Many post on PETFINDER, some do not.  Many of the breed specific rescues do not ‘advertise’ at all, and you find them via networking.  They manage with this type of model because the dog breeds they deal with are rare and rarely end up abandoned—- or they  save very few dogs.  One recently legitimized rescue is Famous Fido’s, owned by Gloria Lissner.  I believe she has a board of directors.  Most of her dogs come from the open access CACC, but she gets some from private parties relinquishing control.  I have to give Gloria some respect, but those of us who have worked for her know that she has been shut down by the IRS several times in the past…for not paying taxes. She is  just not a good record keeper.  I have worked for her twice, and quit twice. It was bad enough she had no records on dog grooming clients, and I had to guess about how to groom every  dog.  She also bounced paychecks,  But more:  before the IRS nailed her, she regularly  bought  puppies to resell, and often boasted that she, personally, INVENTED the ‘Teddy Bear’ designer dog (some sort of Shih Tzu cross).  Then she ‘got religion’ and started ‘saving dogs’.  But she still does NOT keep records.  I would guess, via social media, she ‘saves’ between  10—-30 dogs a year.     I don’t know what her adoption rules are.  She is typical of many of the rescues in the metro Chicago area.

She is no better and no worse than PAWS Chicago or any of the other  ‘no-kill’ groups–except that PAWS publishes an annual report and is  somewhat transparent.  Yet…..a group I volunteer with (which  provides humane education  and monitors  animals in the court system) would not agree to  be hosted in their (PAWS)facility because many of us—who volunteer at CACC—have put ‘holds’ on dogs we wanted to adopt and have the holds taken off by PAWS…& that $65 dog was suddenly going to cost us $250 if we qualified to adopt from PAWS.  Why would a group do this? Why  ‘poach’ a dog you know has been spoken for?  I can only think it’s greed.  And—even though CACC still has to euthanize several thousand perfectly healthy and sweet dogs every year, we find PAWS, Wright-Way, and many other local ‘no-kill’ groups ignoring these dogs in favor or either younger, smaller, or other purebred dogs from  out of state:  pulling from Kentucky & Tennessee.  When I’ve ask volunteers for these organizations why they do this,  the retort is always “So how many dogs do YOU rescue every week?”

None.  That begs the question. This is not about what I rescue—it’s about why YOU pass over adoptable dogs.  We know the reason:  NOBODY WANTS THEM.  Given the choice, if people can get younger, cuter, smaller…or purebreds  that are not Pit Bulls or Pit mixes, and say they RESCUED THE DOG (as Oprah Winfrey did with her brown cocker pups), why should they accept any dog in need of rescue?  Yet, these very arrogant people have the chutzpah to question  why I bought a dog who was returned to his breeder.

Meanwhile…the people causing this surplus of dogs, in some cases puppy mills, but in actuality, ‘backyard’ breeders—are not addressed at all.  Nobody would dare confront these  very  stupid—or should I say ignorant, desperate for money BREEDERS and tell them the dogs they breed are going to be killed  or tortured to death before they die of old age.  No joy in that. The joy is in ‘rescuing’ a cute, cuddly puppy!

I have recently learned that  puppy ‘adopters’ responding to this  blog (the original post on Wright-Way),  thought Wright Way (or name any no-kill group)  was OPEN ADMISSIONS, and although they found it odd that all they had was (puppies, small dogs, purebreds…) they thought  that was what  was being given up. They didn’t realize these  were being CHOSEN and older, blacker, larger adoptable dogs were being passed over.

When you  have an idea in your brain, and  don’t have any skepticism, you  start to think the idea you hold is the truth.  You also think that everyone views integrity the same way you do. America is a ‘free’ country. What that means is you can do business pretty much any way you can get away with.    If something is not specifically ILLEGAL   —it is legal. If you want to say you are non-profit when you are not, it’s legal until you get caught.  If you want to call yourself a rescue when you actually buy dogs from puppy mills to resell and call it adoption—(Google Italian Greyhounds…. Rescue Our Mill Pups), you’re free to  do so.  If you  call yourself private rescue, you don’t need a board of directors, nor will you be audited. This is legal. Is it ethical?  I think not, but that’s for you to decide.   One of my friends defended this, saying that at least (the  owner of ROMP) was rescuing, and not everyone  could afford a  well bred Italian Greyhound…which could cost over $2000 from an ethical hobby breeder who  does OFA and CERF clearance on her breeding dogs—which makes those pups more expensive and more valuable.  But, when you buy a cheaper ‘rescued’ IG for  $400 (let’s say), and as that pup matures, the veterinarian tells you the reason it is limping is that it has luxated patellas, and  repairing each knee will cost at minimum $2000…. how do you feel now?  Could you afford rescue?    & was it a rescue when ROMP bought the pregnant dam. and will do so again—as the puppy mill is still in business?  So many  of these puppy adoptors  have told me they didn’t want to support a breeder, when so many puppies die…but did you really plan to support this? Was it honest for the rescue to not inform you of the possibility of genetic defects, which is statistically very high?

Several of these NO-KILL groups have adopted out puppies with parvo.  An immediate $1000+ expense.  Yes, sometimes a bad breeder, who shows dogs but  doesn’t keep a very clean environment, sends out a dog with giardia, or  parvo, but this is why you  have to ask  for references from their veterinarians,  as well as their dog clubs. Yes—an ethical hobby breeder will usually be a member of a ‘parent’ club.  In fact, even the American Kennel Club—a huge supporter of puppy mills—-will only refer people to breeders who are members of their parent clubs!  How ironic is that?

How would you know this?  Chances are, you wouldn’t. The American Kennel Club spends more  money helping commercial puppy mills than it does  marketing ethical hobby breeders to the public.

So, now that is too late for so many people, and your hearts are broken,  what to do?  In Illinois you are entitled to compensation due to a law passed  this year. For more information on this, contact Cari Meyers at The Puppy Mill Project.  She  just recently had a HUGE SUCCESS partnering with Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza to ban the sales of puppy mill/commercially bred dogs in Chicago pet shops. This will  shed a lot of sunlight on how non-profit rescues operate as well.

1. Ask any ‘rescue’ if they are registered with their state as a bona fide non-profit with a tax exempt number;

2. Ask  if they publish an annual report, and/or a list  with contact information for their board of directors;

3. Ask who their veterinarian is;

4. Do they  post on PETFINDER?

5. How long have they been in existence?

6.  Who are their fosters?

7. How many animals do they adopt out in an average year, and how do they follow up on spay/neuter?  What assistance do they give if your dog develops a genetic health issue?  Do they state this in writing?

8. Where do they get their animals?  If not from an open access pound,  why not?  If so, why do they go out of state if they do that?

Finally, ask yourself why YOU aren’t going to the local open access pound.
And why , since you want to rescue a dog that needs a home, you don’t look at the oldest, blackest, largest dogs who have  sat there  for over 6 months. Ans  ask yourself if you have the time to work with this dog and start taking this dog to obedience classes next week. Finally, don’t  expect others to have more integrity than you have.  We see horrible acts perpetrated by people who proclaim  a religious or spiritual ‘calling’ all the time.

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